NY-23

NY-23: Former LG Endorses Mitrano

The campaign for the Democratic congressional candidate in New York’s 23rd District should get a boost in the form of an endorsement from a Southern Tier heavy hitter.

Former Congressman and Lieutenant Governor Stan Lundine will endorse Tracy Mitrano in Bemus Point Friday evening. Lundine, also the former mayor of Jamestown, served as former Governor Mario Cuomo’s second-in-command for two terms.

He is currently the board chair of the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown.

“As a native Western New Yorker, I know that Tracy has the commitment and competence to provide effective leadership for our region and the nation. She knows the importance of education and how education is the pathway to improving people’s lives. She knows that working and middle-class families are the backbone of this district, and she will work diligently to make sure that we create an economy that works for all of us,” Lundine said.

Mitrano said she was humbled by his support and inspired by the former lieutenant governor’s leadership.

“I will continue to honor Congressman Lundine’s legacy by continuing the fight to bring economic opportunity and better paying jobs to working and middle class families in Western and Southern Tier New York,” she said. “I will fight to put people first.”

Mitrano recently won a five-way Democratic primary and is also endorsed by the Working Families Part and the Women’s Equality Party. She is challenging incumbent Republican Tom Reed this fall.

NY-23: Dem Candidate Discusses Past Use of Cocaine and Mairjuana

The Democratic candidate in New York’s 23rd Congressional District is addressing her use of cocaine and marijuana as a young adult in response to an inquiry from Capital Tonight.

Ithaca cyber-security expert Tracy Mitrano was a regular contributor to the Inside Higher Ed blog between July 2010 and September 2017. In at least two of her posts, Mitrano wrote about past drug use.

She worked for Cornell University for roughly 15 years, most recently as Director of Internet Culture Policy and Law, and in December 2014 posted some observations about “Collegiate Youth Today.” In the piece, she discussed trying drugs as a teenager when she worked at a public pool in Rochester.

“I smoked marijuana for the first time,” she wrote. “I never liked it very much, but on occasion, just to be social, I would try it again from time to time. Powder cocaine was more my thing. In my junior year of college I used it sometimes to help me concentrate on my studies (most people today would have prescription Concerta) until my supplier, a fellow student who drove twice a week to New Hampshire for more and who got addicted to the point of snorting it in a dining hall plastic glass with a straw, drove head on into another car killing himself and everyone else involved.”

Mitrano said she came to deplore drug trafficking both because of the accident and because of the “destructive power” it represents for society.

“I have disclosed my own past because I do not want it said that I speak from a holier-than-thou platform when I say it saddens me very deeply to hear about the penetration of both illegal and legal drugs (used illegally) in our colleges and universities today,” she wrote.

In a separate post in April 2016, Mitrano expressed concerns about the pharmaceutical industry and the widespread prescription of pain pills. She wrote about her own experience with chronic pain as a result of a 10-hour neurosurgery, shying away from her prescribed oxycontin, and ultimately disposing of the pills when her son reached his teenage years.

“Let it be know that I am no prude. Because ‘everyone was doing it,’ I tried marijuana when I was 15. I snorted powered (sp.) cocaine in college,” Mitrano wrote. “I drink more than the daily recommended allotment for women of one ounce of alcohol a day. But I am also deeply sickened by watching generation after generation of young people lost to drug abuse.”

The Democrat won a five-way primary for the right to challenge Republican Congressman Tom Reed by the narrowest of margins. Her closest competitor, Max Della Pia, held an unofficial lead at the end of election day but conceded after absentee ballots gave Mitrano the edge.

She appeared Monday on Capital Tonight to discuss her campaign, addressing a number of issues with Liz Benjamin, drugs not among them. However, Mitrano released a statement through her campaign Tuesday about her past.

“As a seven-year blogger for a national higher education journal of record, I discussed numerous topics of public interest — including topics such as illegal drug use and trafficking that has had such a deleterious impact on the lives of many people,” she said. “I felt that my perspective could add to an understanding of the breadth of the problem we new face as one of the most serious in our country today.”

“One of my posts made reference to a time almost forty years ago in the late 1970s when as an undergraduate at the University of Rochester I experimented with cannabis and powder cocaine. The death of an acquaintance in a fatal car crash as a result of his drug use gave me insight into the personal and social perils of illegal drug use, and the severe adverse effects that the drug trade has had on individuals, families, and society in general in the United States. “

She said she has seen three family members and friends die from drug overdoses more recently. Mitrano maintains her criticisms of how drugs are handled in the United States and believes in the federal legalization and regulation of cannabis, federal funding for addiction treatment centers, vigorous law enforcement to confront the illegal drug trade, and governmental and private civil action against pharmaceutical companies.

The National Republican Congressional Committee suggested her platform of legalizing marijuana, and supervised heroin injection sites in particular, show questionable judgement when it comes to illegal drugs.

“Tracy Mitrano’s history of illegal drug abuse is troubling – but her proposal to bring heroin injection sites to the 23rd District is downright dangerous,” NRCC spokesperson Chris Martin said.

If elected, Mitrano would not be the first high-level politician to have admitted to cocaine use. The list includes former President Barack Obama (maybe) and former New York Governor David Paterson, while former President George W. Bush never overtly denied stories about his younger years that followed him for years.

Reed’s campaign also responded with a brief statement that “these are clearly concerning revelations.”

Della Pia Concedes to Mitrano in NY-23

The only cliffhanger race from last week’s congressional primaries is over, after Max Della Pia issued a statement conceding the NY-23 Democratic contest to his opponent, Tracy Mitrano.

Della Pia issued a concession statement after a partial counting of absentee ballots gave Mitrano a lead that he deemed to be insurmountable, even though the final results will not be certified until Thursday, saying he had done so in the interest of party unity.

Mitrano, who also has the Working Families Party line, will now move forward to challenge Republican Rep. Tom Reed in the November general election.

On primary night, Della Pia led Mitrano by just 26 votes, 7,022 to 6,996, with the three other Democrats in the race – Linda Andrei and Ian Golden, both of Ithaca; and Eddie Sundquist, of Jamestown – trailing significantly behind.

In his statement, Della Pia thanked his family and supporters for backing him and working on his behalf during his year-long campaign. He also thanked his four Democratic primary opponents, urging them to refocus their efforts on ousting Reed.

“We must all, as a team, work together – unified – to make sure a Democrat wins this district, in November,” Della Pia said. “You, your families, and your volunteers, all sacrificed so much to help you. For all that sacrifice, I thank you.”

“…Here’s the bottom line, folks – unless we all commit ourselves to work together and put all our shoulders to the wheel to win, all of our efforts up until now will be for naught. We are all better candidates because of each other. Each one of us. Now, working together, we can make a stronger, better party that can and must win in November.”

Reed has held his seat since 2010. Democrats have repeatedly tried unsuccessfully to dislodge him, but he appears to be comfortably situated in the GOP-dominated district, where he is an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump.

NY-23 has not traditionally been one on which the DCCC is focused as it works to try to win back the majority. But that perhaps could change if polls show this race tightening as Election Day approaches.

Twain Impersonator/Congressional Candidate Launches Website

From the Memo:

Actor John Garman “J.G.” Hertzler has launched a campaign website in his bid to unseat Republican Rep. Tom Reed in NY-23.

Hertzler, best known as a Klingon in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine TV series, is recently launched his unlikely 2018 campaign.

It’s not the first time the actor has entered the political fray. In 2013, he ran on the Democratic ticket for Ulysses Town Board in Tompkins County and won.

On the new congressional website, Hertzler vows to fight for union and non-union workers, veterans, elderly, infirm, and poor.

“I will fight for you, the common man and woman of the 23rd…people of the 23rd who get up at 4AM to farm the land, the people who get up at 5AM to get their kids to school, I will fight for the kids to have a future that’s not filled with climate destruction and hate,” he wrote.

Hertzler’s campaign promises to be interesting, as he plans to run sometimes as himself and sometimes as Mark Twain. He said Twain was a hundred years ahead of his time in support of issues like women’s and civil rights.

“He was a futurist and a humanitarian. Its time for Mark Twain!” he wrote.

He also gave us an example of what the Twain campaign will look like on his website. He posted a video of what appears to be his campaign announcement as Twain on June 8 at the Savage Club in London, England.

In it he compared Reed to a snake. After the performance, and still in character he said he thought he could do a better job than “that fella who’s in there now.”

“Besides, politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed frequently and for the same reason,” Hertzler/Twain continued.

Reed has at least one other challenger in teachers union leader Rick Gallant – who so far is only running as himself.

 

NY-23: Danks Burke Says She Isn’t Running

Leslie Danks Burke, a Democrat who unsuccessfully sought a state Senate seat in New York’s heavily Republican Southern Tier region, bowed out of the race for the 23rd congressional district.

The seat is currently held by Republican Rep. Tom Reed.

In a statement, Danks Burke said it was “humbling” to be considered as a possible candidate for the House seat.

“I am removing myself early from the field of potential Congressional candidates to clear the way for others who may wish to step in, for our political leaders to find and encourage those candidates, and to continue my work in funneling citizen energy into a grassroots base for a bright future,” she said. “I hope to see a vigorous conversation unfold in the months ahead.”

Nevertheless, Danks Burke indicated she’ll continue to be a presence in the area’s political scene.

“Yet my heart lies with the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes and with the people of New York,” she said. “My team and I haven’t stopped the hard work we put in during the 2016 cycle to build lasting change from the bottom up, to a political system that costs taxpayer money and rewards corruption at the top. I have launched Trailblazers PAC to invest the energy and resources of my 2016 campaign into candidates for local office across the state who stand against pay-to-play politics and corruption.”

NY-23: Reed Remains On Team Trump

As House Speaker Paul Ryan on Monday announced in a conference call he would no longer defend Donald Trump’s presidential bid and focus on retaining the GOP’s majority, Republican Rep. Tom Reed insisted he would remain a supporter of the party’s nominee.

Still, in a statement released this afternoon, Reed reiterated Trump’s lewd remarks from a 2005 video “are just plain wrong and I will not defend them.”

“However, a Hillary Clinton presidency is unacceptable,” Reed said.

“As said last night, she is looking for a liberal Supreme Court to enact her agenda. She demonstrated extreme recklessness regarding classified information and risking American lives simply for her own personal convenience. Most troublesome she arrogantly believes she can publicly state one thing while privately carrying out a different agenda. We have to change the DC establishment – so I continue supporting Donald Trump as an outsider who will shake up DC.”

Reed, first elected in 2010, faces Democrat John Plumb for the Southern Tier-area congressional seat.

Reed Attacks Plumb’s Incomplete NRA Grade

Rep. Tom Reed, the Republican incumbent in NY-23, is once again calling into question his opponent’s stance on gun rights.  

The congressman recently received an “A” grade from the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund, and has also been endorsed by the organization. His opponent, Democrat John Plumb, was given a “?” grade. by the NRA

According to the NRA-PVF, the “?” means a candidate refused to answer its questionnaire. That’s not something the political action committee takes lightly, noting it often indicates “indifference, if not outright hostility, to gun owners’ and sportsmen’s rights.”

“Why does DC John have a question mark? It’s because he took another page from the DC playbook by saying one thing and doing another. DC John is taking both sides of the issue,” Reed spokesperson Amy Hasenberg said.  

“Tom Reed has fought for our Second Amendment since entering Congress and has consistently received an ‘A’ rating because he truly cares about our traditions.”

But Plumb insists he is an advocate for Second Amendment rights. During an interview with Capital Tonight last month, he said he was both a gun owner and a hunter.

“I’ve been around guns most of my life,” he said. “I’ve carried 9mms. I’ve fired .45s and nines and M-16s and shotguns for the Navy.”

The Naval reserve commander said there is a gun violence problem issue in the United States that needs to be addressed. Reed said Plumb supports the same anti-gun agenda as President Obama.

Democratic PAC Takes Aim At 23rd Congressional Seat

From the Morning Memo:

Early indications are we could have a competitive race in New York’s 23rd Congressional District – at least the House Majority PAC, a Democrat independent expenditure account, seems to believe so.

Late Monday, the PAC announced media buys in seven new markets, including Buffalo and Elmira. It is spending more than $240,000 to reserve TV advertising slots for the final weeks of the election cycle in Republican Rep. Tom Reed’s district.

“From his out-of-touch record in Congress to his full-throated support for Donald Trump, Congressman Reed has every reason to be worried. NY-23 is very much within reach for Democrats this November,” PAC spokesperson Jeb Fain said.

Reed is being challenged by Democrat John Plumb, a naval reserve commander. During the last presidential election cycle, Reed won by only a few percentage points over then-opponent Nate Shinagawa, a former Tompkins County legislator.

Two years ago though, the congressman shellacked another Democratic opponent, Martha Robertson, another Tompkins County legislator. Reed spokesperson Amy Hasenberg pointed out Robertson was well-supported by the “D.C. establishment” in that race.

She said Reed is seeing even stronger support from his constituents this year. The congressman’s campaign doesn’t seem to be taking this race for granted though, attacking Plumb Monday for repeatedly failing to vote in elections.

“It’s no surprise that Nancy Pelosi’s PAC is trying to save DC John Plumb’s failing campaign. Voters will see through Washington trying to tell them what to think and do,” Hasenberg said.

Plumb’s campaign sees things differently. It believe the candidate is getting outside support because the campaign has momentum.

“They know Commander Plumb has what it takes to protect jobs here in New York while making sure America remains safe from terrorists at home and abroad – unlike Congressman Tom Reed who’s become part of the broken system in Washington that’s left our towns and small communities behind,” campaign manager Jason Robert Henry said.

Republican analyst Vic Martucci said right now the Reed seat has a target on it, but that could change if it becomes clear Donald Trump is doing well in Upstate New York. He said, by the fall, the district could look significantly less winnable for Democrats.

“Keep in mind that it’s early. Priorities can and do change and it’s possible this PAC will cancel the buy and shift resources where they think they have the best chance to win,” GOP analyst Vic Martucci said.

Reed Not Impressed With DEC Report On Fracking

The 2,000-page report on hydrofracking, released the Department of Environmental Conservation Wednesday, did little to change the mind of a Western New York Congressman. Republican Tom Reed has been an unapologetic supporter of fracking, and told Time Warner Cable News he’s not impressed with the DEC’s findings.

“That’s the best that New York State can do after seven years of studying this issue?” Reed asked.

The report, which takes more than 260,000 public comments into consideration, concludes there are major uncertainties about potential health and environmental risks associated with high-volume fracking.  Reed saw no evidence in the report that definitively proves fracking is harmful.

“Probably millions of dollars of taxpayer money going to research the issue and they come up with a qualitative maybe there’s an issue there? It begs the question, is this being done with science and data or is this being done for political purposes,” said Reed.

The report is seen as one of the final steps before Governor Cuomo makes a temporary moratorium on hydrofracking permanent.  Reed, whose 23rd Congressional District butts up against the Pennsylvania border and sits atop the Marcellus Shale, said the ban has put his district at a disadvantage.

“We’ve had family farmers in tears, multi-generational family farmers who were relying on the opportunity that would come from the development of the natural gas rights on their property and now they’re looking at me like how can I keep the farm?”

Despite the move that appears to be coming in Albany, Reed remains hopeful the impending ban can one day be lifted.

“I’m always the eternal optimist but I’m also very practical,” said Reed. “Clearly asking the Governor to reconsider this is not going to end in a result where he will, but I’m going on record on behalf of thousands of people in Western New York who own their property, who pay their taxes on their property,” Reed added.

On the other side, those in favor of banning fracking describe the DEC report as a victory over the gas drilling industry.

“This is a really proud moment for every one of them because protecting public health triumphed over industry pressure. There are thousands of pages of fine detail to sort through, and we know much work remains, like banning other states’ fracking waste from being dumped inside our borders,” said Water & Natural Resources Associate Liz Moran.

Reed: Federal Regulations Show Fracking Can Be Done In New York

Congressman Tom Reed is once again calling on Governor Cuomo to change his position on fracking. The Corning Republican suggested new federal regulations on the issue show a “fracture” between Democrats.

“To see that Gov. Cuomo can’t do in New York State what the Obama administration is doing on the federal level is amazing,” Reed said in a conference call with reporters Monday.

New Federal regulations, announced on Friday, updated rules for 95,000 oil and gas wells that operate on Federal land. Reed said he’s not necessarily a fan of President’s Obama’s oversight of natural gas development and hydrofracking, but unlike Governor Cuomo he said at least the Obama Administration is moving forward.

“Clearly, the Obama administration has relied on the best scientists, the best data, the best information that is out there,” Reed said.

Reed is calling on the Governor to look at the science used by the administration as a model to allow development of the Marcellus Shale in New York. In statement released Monday night Reed said:

“I am calling on Gov. Cuomo to reverse his ill-conceived fracking ban that infringes on constitutionally protected property rights. If the Obama administration and even California Gov. Jerry Brown can side with farmers and landowners, now is the time to undo such a damaging and job-killing policy.”

Meantime, Reed is also proposing the Defense of Property Rights Act. The idea, detailed in an oped, would allow property owners adversely impacted by the ban on hydrofracking to seek compensation.