NY-22 Minute: Tenney Defends Memo Calling Brindisi's Family Violent & Thuggish By Luke Perry
Yesterday The New York Post reported on a memo from Claudia Tenney’s campaign warning staff members about “violence, intimidation, and thuggish behavior” related to Anthony Brindisi’s family.
Tenney, who was interviewed for the article, said “this is rural upstate New York, which is usually kind of a quiet place, but I have 11 colleges in my district and that’s where most of these people are coming,” referring to the alleged troublemakers.
When interviewed this morning on Talk of the Town at WUTQ in Utica, Tenney claimed to learn about the memo yesterday (full interview here). When asked about who wrote it, Tenney was not entirely sure. When pressed by cohost Jay Aiello, Tenney guessed it was “Tim,” one of her campaign consultants. Tenney might have been referring to “Tim Edson,” a longtime consultant for Tenney.
Tenney explained this morning that she faces “a very aggressive campaign.” “You’ve got to be careful,” Tenney said, “his family has a history,” referring to Anthony Brindisi.
Tenney also criticized the “radical resist movement,” who Tenney believes does not consist of ordinary, everyday people. Opposition began in relation to her perceived unwillingness to hold open town hall meetings. Tenney claimed to have done over thirty open forums, and asked “how many town halls do I have to do till it’s enough?”
Tenney believes the memo and her related claims are justified because Anthony Brindisi’s campaign has focused on her donors and the perceived influence they have over her, who she described as “just Washington interest groups.” Tenney contended that Brindisi’s father is a mentor and major donor to his campaign, so it’s “fair” to discuss his family in the campaign. Tenney criticized Brindisi’s father and brother throughout the interview.
Tenney also spoke about her concerns regarding security. Examples included death threats, a black jeep regularly appearing outside her house, videotaping of her in public, and calls to Tenney’s businesses criticizing her and her family.
Ellen Foster, Anthony Brindisi’s campaign manager, issued a statement that was included in the Post story.
On Talk of the Town, Tenney claimed she was “personally offended” by the suggestion her comments were anti-Italian. Tenney studied abroad in Italy as a student at Colgate University and claimed to have continued studying language and culture in Italy since the 1980s.
Negative attacks are common in close campaigns. Personally attacking Brindisi’s family likely appeals more to Tenney’s diehard supporters than moderate Republicans.
The Sienna College Research Institute recently found that 1 in 4 NY-22 Republicans support Anthony Brindisi, just shy of the nearly 30 percent of district Republicans who view Tenney unfavorably. Tenney’s reelection chances may be contingent on whether or not she can bring these disaffected Republicans back into the fold.
Updated 9/19, 2:13pm
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.
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