On Thursday, January 21, 2016, Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney was meeting with the public in Broome County. One of her stops was at the Endicott, NY, VFW Post 1449. It was here that we were able to get an exclusive interview with the leading candidate for the 2016 NY 22nd congressional district race.
Assemblywoman Tenney, who had previously spent the day in Albany discussing Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget in the Assembly along with other issues, took a half hour way from the veterans, members, and guests of the VFW to go over her second congressional campaign. In 2014, Assemblywoman Tenney was a late entry to the race challenging incumbent Rep. Richard Hanna. Assemblywoman Tenney, like Rep. Hanna, is a Republican and their battle was for the Republican nomination. Assemblywoman Tenney lost that primary race by a small margin of 2,000 votes out of the 8 Counties that make up the NY-22. Because the Democrat Party failed to present any challenger, Rep. Hanna went on to win the election 74% – 26% (those votes being blank, or for Mickey Mouse, ect.).
In November 2015, Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney (who represents the 101st Assembly District currently) announced her decision to challenge Rep. Hanna once again for the seat in Congress. But in a surprise move in December 2015, Rep. Hanna announced he would resign his seat at the end of 2016, creating an open seat election. With that announcement a floodgate of interest opened up. Potential candidates, in both the Democrat and Republican Parties, who had never indicated any interest in running for the seat suddenly announced their curiosity. Currently Democrat David Gordon, a former 1-term Legislator who has since lost election twice, stepped up as the only Democrat willing to run. Republican George Phillips, who had previously lost in 2 congressional races before the NY-22 was redistricted, resurfaced with an interest to run again after a 6 year hiatus (not including his appointment to and resignation from the Broome County 8th District Legislators seat, 2013-2014). In addition, a first-time candidate, Aaron Price who is best known for his efforts to have Upstate NY secede to Pennsylvania, has announced his intent to run as a Republican challenger this week.
In the interview, Assemblywoman Tenney noted that her campaign (like that in 2014) was based on representation of the public and providing the public a choice in that representation. Her record as a strong supporter of the Constitution was clearly evident as she welcomed the competition of the latest challengers. In fact she opened the door to full debate with Price and Phillips, a move rarely seen with traditional establishment frontrunners. But then, Claudia Tenney is not considered the establishment candidate.
In regard to her experience, Assemblywoman Tenney noted her work as a lawyer, as well as being owner of a family run manufacturing business – a status that continues to diminish in population in the State. Which led to her views on the $15/hour mandatory minimum wage created by the Cuomo Administration. In the words of Assemblywoman Tenney,
“…the Tax Foundation determined that New York is in fact the highest taxed State in the nation. We have the 2nd highest energy burden as far as regulations against our business community…The reality is that a mandate from Government to say that we must pay $15 with all the burdens that we pay in addition makes us less competitive as a nation.”
Further, Assemblywoman Tenney discussed one of the most critical issues facing the nation. The question of not only creating jobs, but keeping jobs in the US. An issue that has plagued the Obama Administration since 2009, and has led to a 62.6% participation rate – a low not seen since the 1970’s. In part, she noted that the free-trade deals – like NAFTA and the recent Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) – have been more a part of the problem than the resolution. As to the question of H1b and H2b visas that insert foreigners into jobs instead of Americans (which we asked of Aaron Price and George Phillips),
“Part of the reason these big multi-national and globalist countries are behind this , the US Chamber [of Commerce] and others are behind this type of initiative is because they can get cheap labor, cheap foreign labor to displace our local American labor and I think that’s a bad thing. I wouldn’t support that as a member of Congress… I didn’t support the Omnibus [Spending Bill] because it increased the number of H1b and H2b visas both and that can be devastating to our workforce in the US.”
In turning to international politics, especially the controversial Iran Nuclear Deal and current question on the Syrian refugees, Assemblywoman Tenney had strong opinions. She identified her belief that one of the key reasons for the Federal Government is the defense of the nation, which the Iran deal endangers. As for the Syrian refugees, the issue comes back to ISIS and the civil war in Syria, to paraphrase Assemblywoman Tenney. The need for vetting the refugees is critical in her opinion, and must be a key factor addressed before America can be the welcoming home that it has been for refugees across the globe.
“The Iran nuclear deal allows one of the greatest sponsors, the biggest sponsor in the world of terrorism… to allow Iran to now come in and use those assets and use that to sponsor more terrorism against the US. I would never have supported the deal… ”
As for Assemblywoman Tenney’s record, she stood firm on what she has done in the NY State Assembly. That included her fight to make former Assembly leader Sheldon Silvers accountable for his corruption, years prior to the actions of Preet Bhara. She also addressed what she called the 2014 false flag campaign. It was a series of commercials alleging among other things that she voted with Democrats and therefore was a Liberal. Assemblywoman Tenney set the record straight on what she has accomplished and noted that,
“People should know, look up my record. The Conservative Party wouldn’t rank me so high if I were a Sheldon Silver devotee.”
This of course lead to a discussion on the potential for compromise. We asked if a Republican with strong constitutional values could make compromises in Congress?
“Somehow standing for our Constitution, which is one of the most liberal documents created in the history of mankind, makes you an extremist. It’s not. … I reach across the isle to find common ground. I don’t compromise our principles or our values. I don’t compromise the principles of our country was founded on – whether they’re Republican or Democrat, however you want to view them… I have dozens and dozens of bills with Democrats. I can’t get a bill passed in the State Assembly without Democratic support… Compromise is great and I support it, surrender is not acceptable.”
In summary, we were able to delve a bit deeper into who is the frontrunner in the NY 22nd congressional race. Besides being the only candidate with a complete campaign website – detailing a political platform she stands for – and having experience in running for Congress, we were able to gain access to the questions that voters want clear answers on. In an election where some candidates are hiding their past and declining to state where they stand on the issues, Assemblywoman Tenney stands apart with a very clear message.