In politics any news event can potentially be a new opportunity to introduce a candidate to voters. This is true even if the things being covered are in fact not new things. This describes much of the official announcement by George Phillips on his entry into the New York 22nd Congressional race against frontrunner Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney on January 12, 2016,.
We first exclusively broke the news that George Phillips had entered the NY-22 congressional race on December 29, 2015, after confirming a campaign website existed and receiving a copy of the letter soliciting donations from select voters in the district. On January 4, 2016, Mr. Phillips spoke to the news media to tout a remarkable collection of campaign donations in just 4 days. That was followed by Mr. Phillips with a tour of radio stations across the district. Thus the official announcement that Mr. Phillips was a bit anti-climactic.
But the retread of the old did not stop with that. Mr. Phillips decorated the dining room at Brothers 2 restaurant in Endwell, NY, with campaign posters and yard signs from his last congressional race in 2010. We covered that race extensively, as it garnered attention across the nation. In fact the race in 2010 was so competitive that Democrats called in former President Bill Clinton to ensure that Rep. Maurice Hinchey would win the race. The Democrats succeeded, with Rep. Hinchey winning in the gerrymandered district 51% to 45.9%.
The new of the race is far more subtle. The NY-22 was redefined in 2012, due to loss of population and seats in Congress for the State. Northern counties of Oneida, Herkimer, Oswego were added to the district among others. Also Rep. Richard Hanna assumed the representation of the now safely Republican district.
Besides a change in the population, and a north/south division in the political priorities of the district, the politics itself changed. In the 6 years since George Phillips last ran for Congress, there was Benghazi, the IRS and Veterans Administration scandals. Mass shootings grabbed the attention of the nation, while internationally ISIS forced their way on the stage. Which is to say nothing of the national debt, the partisan divide of Congress, cash for clunkers, the ‘green’ energy bankruptcies, the shutdown of the Government, Planned Parenthood, and more.
Undaunted by all the changes and his silence as they occured, Mr. Phillips has stepped forward to fill the seat of the retiring Rep. Richard Hanna. He announced in his speech that this was a campaign of ideas and Jack Kemp. He told the audience that he would focus on the economy and national security. He implied that he was going to be a Republican candidate, as opposed to the somewhat blue Rep. Hanna.
Except Mr. Phillips has yet to state what he is going to stand firm against Democrats on. He has mentioned constantly that he will model his campaign after Jack Kemp. Yet that says nothing about where he stand on ISIS, or Syria, or illegal immigration, or even the Executive Orders of President Obama. Thus far, each time any member of the media has asked for details the answer has been that “there will be time to go over this in the campaign.” Some would argue that time is now.
Even now, very nearly a month after creating the campaign website, there is still nothing available for the public to see. There is a request for donations, but nothing to justify why those donations should be made. Other than the fact that Mr. Phillips is a local candidate, with some local support, and still remembered for his loss 6 years ago.
Still Mr. Phillips did add one new thing to the talking points he provided the media. After 14 days of requests and delay, Mr. Phillips stated that the domain for his campaign was purchased via a US company. This was in response to our investigation, showing that the domain was purchased via a Canadian domain company by unknown individuals, transferred to the Phillips for Congress campaign in an unknown manner. When we asked Mr. Phillips to clarify his answer based on these questions he stated [see video]
“I gave you my answer. We’ll show it in our records when we file.”
Mr. Phillips was equally abrupt when it came to discussing current political issues. When he was asked if he would have voted for the controversial Omnibus Bill, Mr. Phillips stated he would not. He further stated, upon request for clarification, that the Omnibus was an example of the problem in Congress,
“Spending, Planned Parenthood, national security, the issues were well laid out in it.”
The thing that would be most original and new for the Phillips campaign is likely to be the trip to the northern counties of the district on January 14, 2016. It will be the first time most of the current NY-22 will have ever heard of Mr. Phillips. In addition, if Mr. Phillips finally starts to share what his political platform will be, it will be the first time in 6 years that anyone will have heard his views on the critical issues facing the nation. Exactly how non-blue that may turn out to be is still unknown.
The frontrunner in the race is Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney. She announced her run in November 2015. That was prior to Rep. Richard Hanna declaring he will retire at the end of 2016, opening up his seat and avoiding a primary challenge. Assemblywoman Tenney challenged Rep. Hanna in 2014, and after a mere 3 months in the race narrowly lost by just 2,000 votes. Assemblywoman Tenney has already garnered the endorsement of Citizens United in the 2016 race.