Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) announced her reelection bid at the same restaurant in New Hartford where she found out in 2016 that she would be headed to Washington, D.C. She reminisced with her an enthusiastic crowd of supporters Saturday, saying that was a turning point for the entire country.
"Even here in upstate New York where the failed corrupt policies of Gov. Cuomo have destroyed our economy there is - believe it or not - a new sense of optimism," Tenney said.
Tenney praised the progress that the Republican-controlled Congress and White House have achieved in the past year including passing the tax overhaul, rolling back regulations, repealing the individual mandate of the Affordable Care act And investing more in the military. Compare that, Tenney says, to what Democrats have done with control of government in New York state - including her Democratic opponent Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica).
"Brindisi expressed on many occasions, and I have seen this in the news, how great Cuomo has been for our area," Tenney said. "Really? Has he been following the Percoco corruption trial and the next seven trials that are coming our way? Has he seen where we are economically - the loss in jobs, the highest taxes, the highest regulatory burden, some of the highest energy costs in the nation?"
The race between Tenney and Brindisi is considered a must-win for both parties as Democrats try to wrest control of the House from Republicans. Utica College government professor Luke Perry says both candidates need to appeal to the middle to win this seat, but Tenney is not widening her base.
"It seems she has approached this by making even stronger appeals to those who voted for President Trump," Perry said. "This is a risky proposition given Trump’s diminished standing throughout upstate New York."
Perry says Tenney has the advantage of being an incumbent but her biggest liability is her communications. The congresswoman has made several controversial remarks, including saying many mass shooters are Democrats.
Tenney was asked about that comment after her speech. In a contentious back and forth with a Syracuse television reporter, Tenney defended those remarks, saying that was in response to the criticism of Republicans after the shootings. The reporter continued to ask how that affects civility in Congress. Tenney deflected. When pressed about it again, she tried to grab the microphone to finish her statement and then yelled "it's fake news." Tenney then abruptly ended the press conference.