Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) is running for Congress in the 22nd District, looking to challenge his former colleague in the Assembly, Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford).
Brindisi jumps into the race after declining last year to run for the open seat that was vacated by moderate Republican Richard Hanna. He said a lot has changed in that time.
Brindisi says Tenney is far more loyal to Republican Party initiatives, like the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. And that, he says, has hurt the district.
"We want someone who understands health care and what it means to us, not someone who will strip 23 million Americans of their health insurance," Brindisi told supporters at his announcement Wednesday in downtown Utica. "Taking away health insurance for working families and giving big tax cuts to billionaires never created a single job in this town."
Brindisi also took swipes at Tenney for her lack of in-person town halls. The congresswoman has not held any of the open-invitation events in the district since taking office, which she says is due to security threats. But Brindisi says that inaccessibility demonstrates her loyalty to "D.C. power brokers" over her own constituents.
"We need someone who works for us not special interests who don't give a hoot about our families," Brindisi said. "We want someone who will pick up the phone -- hey, maybe even have a working phone when they open their office."
Although a Democrat, Brindisi continually referred to himself as an independent voice. The 22nd District, which includes parts of Oswego County, the Mohawk Valley and the Southern Tier, has swung between Republicans and Democrats in the past. Brindisi said he has criticized his party's leaders in the past, like going after Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration.
In a statement Tenney rebuffed that Brindisi has a moderate record, saying he has served as a rubber stamp for Democrats during his time in the Assembly.
"Brindisi has worked hand-in-hand with Andrew Cuomo to make New York the highest taxed state in the nation, driving our residents and jobs out in record numbers," Tenney said in a statement. "Brindisi has advocated for and voted for Cuomo's corrupt, self-serving initiatives like Start-Up NY, the corrupt and tragic Oneida Deal and the Buffalo Billion."
Patrick Madden, a computer science professor at Binghamton University, has also entered the race as a Democrat.