GOP challenger takes aim at Tenney in 24th District
Mario Fratto isn’t going anywhere.
With U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney deciding to run for reelection in the newly drawn 24th Congressional District, Fratto, a Geneva Republican, is refusing to bow out of the race.
In a lengthy statement, Fratto said that Tenney lives outside of the district — her home is in New Hartford in Oneida County — and that she has already changed districts once when the Democratic-led state Legislature drew the maps. Tenney was seeking reelection in the now-former 23rd district, which included much of the Southern Tier.
Members of Congress are not required to live in the districts they represent.
“My family has been in this district for five generations,” said Fratto, who is an attorney and operates his family’s business, Geneva Granite.
“My wife and I were born and raised here, and we’re raising our son here. For the first time in any of our lifetimes, we have a united Finger Lakes district and we deserve a representative of our own for once,” Fratto said.
He added, “Rather than fighting to win a competitive seat in her own part of the state or battling (U.S. Rep. Chris Jacobs) in a primary, Claudia has decided to primary me because she thinks the Finger Lakes isn’t strong enough to have its own representative. She couldn’t be more wrong.”
Jacobs, a Buffalo-area Republican, planned to run for reelection in a previous version of the 24th district.
The district drawn by state lawmakers included part of Erie County and extended to northern New York. But the final district map drawn by a court-appointed special master removed Erie County from the 24th.
The district is comprised of 12 counties, including all of Cayuga.
Jacobs will now seek reelection in the newly drawn 23rd district, which includes a large portion of Erie County and the Southern Tier.
Tenney opted to run in the new 24th district over the 22nd district, which includes all of Oneida County.
While she said that the 24th includes areas she represents in Congress — specifically, the eastern part of Oswego County — there was possibly a political calculus in her decision-making process. Democrats will have an enrollment edge in the 22nd district. But the 24th will be one of the safest GOP districts in the state.
In a tweet announcing her plans, Tenney highlighted the support she has received from top GOP leaders, including former President Donald Trump. Before Tenney’s entry into the race, Fratto hoped to secure Trump’s endorsement.
“I will continue working to earn the support of voters across #NY24,” she wrote. “This partisan redistricting process created chaos & undermined the democratic process. Now it’s time to bring New Yorkers together to deliver commonsense Conservative advocacy to our State & Nation!”
But Fratto is spoiling for a fight. He has $206,000 in his campaign account — Tenney has $1.2 million — and is attempting to label the GOP congresswoman as liberal.
One of the issues he used to make his case is that Tenney voted in support of a $40 billion Ukraine aid package that received wide bipartisan support. Every New York member of Congress present for the vote supported the measure.
Tenney had a 75 rating on the American Conservative Union’s 2021 scorecard and has a lifetime score of 67.22. She has a conservative voting record in the House and has been one of Trump’s biggest supporters in Congress.
There isn’t a lot of room to run to the right of Tenney, but Fratto is hoping to find it.
“I ran a wealthy career politician like Chris Jacobs out of this seat, and I am fully prepared to send another one packing,” he said.
“Go fight for your own home, Claudia. The Finger Lakes are not for sale. Our message to the political elite and the swamp is clear: The people will decide this election, not the D.C. establishment or the party power brokers,” he added.
The primary election will be held on Aug. 23.
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