Rematch in central New York House district looking even meaner than last time

First-term New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi faces a familiar foe in November, former Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney.

She’s looking to take back the central New York seat she lost to Brindisi in 2018 in one of the toughest fights that year, when Democrats won the House majority for the first time in eight years. That included a Tenney campaign memo calling Brindisi’s family “criminal” and “thuggish.” Brindisi, at various times in the campaign, called then-congresswoman Tenney “stupid” and “a disgrace.”

House Republicans see the 22nd District as key in their long-shot quest to retake the House majority. To do so, Republicans would need to net about 17 seats. One thing in their favor is that President Trump is still popular in the traditionally GOP district.

A freshman lawmaker, Brindisi must defend his seat in the 22nd Congressional District. Voters there gave Trump 55% of the vote in 2016 to 39% for Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

So, Brindisi, 41, is considered one of the most vulnerable freshman Democrats in his rematch against Tenney, who was a House member for a single, two-year term before losing.

The New York Democrat won the seat in 2018 by nearly 2 percentage points and raised just over $1 million more than Tenney following the contentious race. The New York Democrat won the two largest counties in the district, Broome and Oneida.

Tenney and Brindisi were previously colleagues for six years in the New York Assembly, on opposite sides of the aisle.

Brindisi, a native of Utica and Albany Law School graduate, serves on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and the House Agriculture Committee.

During his first term in office, Brindisi has attempted to distance himself from House Democratic leaders and the more leftist elements of his party, preferring to focus on local issues.

Brindisi has highlighted his work with the Trump administration to get four bills signed into law to support veterans and bring jobs back to the United States from China. However, he remains a staunch supporter of the Affordable Care Act and voted to impeach the president.

Tenney, 59, seeks to attract the district’s more conservative voters by campaigning on Trump’s agenda while arguing that Brindisi is too liberal for the needs of the rural region of the state outside the cities of Binghamton and Utica.

The New York Republican seeks to hold China responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic through lawsuits against the Chinese Communist government for damages inflicted on U.S. families. She also advocates freezing Chinese assets as collateral on the prospective damages caused by COVID-19.

Republican and Democratic groups are pouring millions into this race, and Democrats plan on outspending the GOP 4 to 1 in the final stretch on TV ads. Republican groups already announced $8.2 million will be spent on Tenney’s campaign this fall. All of this suggests the Brindisi-Tenney rematch could be one of the meanest, nastiest, and most negative House races in the country.

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