Welcome to “Meet a Competitive House Race,” a Paste feature in which we highlight—you guessed it—a competitive 2018 House race from somewhere in America. Between now and election day, we’ll hopefully hit them all. You can see a full list of other House races we’ve profiled at the bottom of this page.
What’s the deal with today’s district? Where is it?
New York’s 22nd district runs through the middle of the state, essentially cutting it in half. The district includes Lake Ontario, the farms of Mohawk Valley and a few mid-sized cities.
Who the hell lives there? How do they vote?
The district is composed of four red counties and four pivot counties. Pivot counties are places that voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 but flipped and voted for Trump in 2016. Overall, there are 30,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats. The district is 87 percent white with only four percent black and four percent Hispanic. Basically, it’s one of the least ethnically diverse, as well as most Republican district in New York.
Is Trump going to screw the Republican?
Unfortunately, it seems Trump is going to help the Republican.
Give me some more background
The citizens of district 22 seem pretty happy with Republican incumbent Claudia Tenney and Trump’s performances so far. Both have been criticized for outrageous statements, and even lying to the public, but nevertheless this is just one of those places in America that doesn’t care. Most voters in the area argue that Trump and Tenney’s performances should be judged based on their record instead of their statements.
What’s up with the Republican(s)?
Claudia Tenney is a first term Republican in Congress, and she knows her district well. She has voted in line with Trump’s policy positions 97 percent of the time. She has been praised for her votes on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and for her support in repealing the Affordable Care Act. She has been one of Trump’s biggest cheerleaders and some have predicted that she will become a Trump appointee. Tenney has been described by a Republican strategist as “Trump before Trump.”
However, much like Trump, Tenney has faced a fair share of criticism about her controversial public statements. A week after 17 people were murdered at a high school in Parkland, Fl. Tenney said “so many” of the mass murderers “end up being Democrats.” She also follows in Trump’s footsteps when it comes to lying and claimed that Trump’s $1.5 billion tax cut has already paid for itself.
District 22 is a key battleground district in this midterm election, and the House GOP fears for her seat, even if she doesn’t. Most Republicans in swing districts have stifled their pro-Trump antics and taken a more moderate approach in order to get reelected. As Trump meets with Russian President Valdimir Putin and types Twitter storms filled with grammar mistakes, most House Republicans have attempted to distance themselves from him during their campaigns. Tenney, however, has moved closer to Trump. Just days after her Democratic opponent passed her in campaign contributions, she was declaring that Hillary Clinton and James Comey should be put in jail.
When asked about her fellow Republican’s concerns that she should tone down the Trump fan-girl act she said, “I praise him when I think he’s got the right thing and I don’t support him when he’s done the wrong thing. I think if anyone can figure out a way to win. … I’m very competitive. I have a good feel. I’m in my district.”
Despite the GOP’s concerns, all eight of the district’s Republican county committees have endorsed Tenney.
What’s up with the Democrat(s)?
Anthony Brindisi is carrying out a silent attack against Tenney and instead of speaking out, he has been focused on the district. He said:
Folks back home don’t want our community to make national news because of the controversial things that our representative says. They want a representative who’s going to fight to get them better health care, who’s going to provide middle-class tax cuts, and who is going to stand up to corporate special interests that are driving the conversation in Washington.
Brindisi’s strategy has been working pretty well so far. As of May, he had outraised Tenney in campaign contributions and was in the lead. Like Tenney, Brindisi knows his district well and is running as a rare pro-gun Democrat. He said, “I firmly believe that a representative can support the Second Amendment and support common-sense reforms to try and cut down mass gun violence.” Also in an attempt to appeal to the right leaning voter’s in his district, he stated that he would not support Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker of the House if he is elected.
However, there’s one downfall to flying under the radar against an outspoken incumbent: Brindisi has low name recognition. In May, 65 percent of voters in the district said they didn’t know enough about him to form an opinion.
What do the polls say?
All of the polls have declared this district one of the most heated toss up races in the midterm election. As of May, Brindisi was leading by a small margin, but it’s still too close to tell.
What’s weird about the district?
This district is a red dot in the middle of the blue state of New York. 47 percent of the voters make less than $50,000 a year and 15.2 percent are under the poverty line, that’s 10 percent higher than the U.S.’s overall poverty rate. Yet, they are one of the rare districts that is still cheering for Trump, who continues to put the interests of the top one percent before the rest of the country. Despite all of Trump’s recent scandals, meetings with dictators, lies and utter embarrassments, this district remains loyal. In turn, this may be one of the only swing districts where the Republican candidate isn’t trying to distance themselves from the president.
Give me a prediction
Unfortunately, all of the signs point to Tenney on this one. It seems that Tenney and Trump can do, and say, anything they want and get away with it in this district.
—New Jersey 7th: Leonard Lance vs. Tom Malinowski, Most Likely
—Minnesota 2nd: Jason Lewis vs. Angie Craig or Jeff Erdmann
—New York 19th: John Faso vs. Antonio Delgado or Pat Ryan
—California 10th: Jeff Denham vs. Michael Eggman or Josh Harder
—Nebraska 2nd: Bacon vs. Brad Ashford or Kara Eastman
—California 48th: Rohrabacher, vs. some Democrat, eventually
—Florida 26th: Carlos Curbelo vs. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell
—Colorado 6th: Mike Coffman vs. Jason Crow
—Washington 8th: Dino Rossi vs. too many infighting Dems
—Iowa 1st: Blum vs. Probably Abby Finkenauer
—Texas’ 32nd: Pete Sessions vs. Colin Allred