Tenney to challenge Brindisi for former seat

New Hartford Republican Claudia Tenney, seen above on Election Day 2018, says she plans to challenge U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica, for her former seat in Congress.

NEW HARTFORD — Former U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney has declared her intention to seek election to her old seat.

Tenney, a Republican, served one term in Congress before being defeated last November by now-U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica. Her narrow loss to Brindisi birthed immediate speculation of a rematch, and Tenney in a statement Monday confirmed she would restart her campaign.

“We can no longer sit idly by and watch as Anthony Brindisi and Washington Democrats erase the gains we made with a Republican majority,” Tenney said in a statement.

Brindisi defeated Tenney by just 3,100 votes out of nearly 240,000 cast in the 2018 election. Tenney won Oswego County by a total of 9,587 votes to Brindisi’s 5,766. The 24th Congressional District sprawls from the eastern half of Oswego County east to Utica then south to the Pennsylvania border.

If Tenney clinches the Republican nomination and Brindisi indeed seeks re-election, their potential 2020 race will set up a rematch of one of the most hotly contested congressional seats in the nation two years ago.

Through a spokesperson, the Brindisi campaign said the district had “long turned the page on Claudia Tenney.”

“[Brindisi will] keep up his fight for middle-class families, but remains at-the-ready for a re-match against a kind of politics voters are, quite frankly, exhausted by,” said Brindisi campaign representative Sarah Russell.

Visits by President Donald Trump, his daughter Ivanka Trump and other executive branch surrogates pumped Tenney’s 2018 candidacy in the waning days of the campaign. Despite Tenney’s passionate loyalty for the commander-in-chief, she could not prevail in a district Trump won by double-digits.

“This do-nothing Congress is simply not delivering for the American people or this district,” Tenney said in her statement. “It’s time we sent a strong advocate to Congress who is focused on real results, not a politician who is ineffective and who tests the political winds before acting on behalf of our region.”

The animus between the two Utica-area politicians has its roots in a previous legislative body: Brindisi and Tenney served contemporaneously in the New York State Assembly and often clashed on political and policy issues.

Tenney has long staked out her position as a punchy, bold, conservative Republican, unafraid to wrap her arms fully around President Trump and the majority of his pugnacious policies. In contrast, Brindisi has long sought to paint himself as the serious, moderate candidate, refusing to support California Democrat Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House and so far trepidatious about the question of impeachment inquiries regarding Trump.

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