Political roundup: Debate over debates aired in congressional race


An announcement this week that the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce and Professional & Business Women of Rome would not host an in-person forum between congressional candidates led to an exchange of accusations of debate-dodging from the Democratic and Republican candidates to represent New York’s 22nd Congressional District.

Chamber President Bill Guglielmo sent notice that the event, tentatively scheduled to coincide with National Business Women’s Week in the third week of October, would not happen as usual this year. Since 2003, the groups have arranged a meeting in which candidates for office shared views and take questions. The chamber doesn’t endorse candidates but offered the event each year to help members know the candidates, he explained.

“Unfortunately, with scheduling conflicts and a worldwide pandemic, the Chamber and PBW will not be hosting an in-person congressional forum this year,” Guglielmo said in the announcement. “As a reminder, both our organizations value educational events like the congressional forum so members of the business community can ask questions of the candidates to be better informed before an election. This year, in keeping with the ever growing popularity of virtual events, our proposal to both candidates is to record answers to questions provided by members of the Chamber and PBW. Their responses will be posted on the Chamber website.”

The campaign of former Congresswoman Claudia Tenney, the Republican from New Hartford whom then Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, a Utica Democrat, narrowly defeated in 2018, sent out to news media a statement saying Brindisi, now facing a rematch, is dodging debates, and added other criticisms. The campaign said Brindisi has not agreed take part in four diabetes by Utica radio stations, a Binghamton television station, and the Rome forum.

Tenney spokesman Sean Kennedy said:

“Anthony Brindisi is dodging debates because he does not want to be accountable for his record of broken promises and his support for the radical left-wing policies of Nancy Pelosi including impeaching President Trump with no-evidence, defunding the police, raising taxes on middle-class families, and a government takeover of our healthcare.”

Brindisi’s campaign in turn denied he had turned down the Rome event and instead could not work it into his schedule as a sitting member of Congress and parent during the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign further accused Tenney of turning down an invitation to an event hosted by Southern Tier public broadcaster WSKG.

“Anthony is living up to his promise to participate in 4 debates, one in each media market including the Syracuse Post-Standard,” campaign spokesman Luke Jackson said in a statement. “This is the same set of debates conducted during the 2018 race between the same candidates. It is unfortunate that Ms. Tenney continues to dodge the WSKG and League of Women Voters debate that played an important role in the discourse during 2018. Anthony will continue to engage in candidate forums, open public events, and meetings with constituents.”

Most recent Republican governor endorses Tenney

Tenney’s campaign this week announced the endorsement of George Pataki, New York governor for three terms ending in 2006. Pataki said, according to the Tenney campaign:

“Upstate New York needs a fighter like Claudia Tenney in Washington to help President Trump, defend the police and stand up for law and order, and bring good paying jobs back to our communities. As a fellow Marine parent, I fully support Claudia because she will fight to get our brave servicemen and women and veterans the resources and benefits they need and deserve. Claudia supports President Trump and his America First agenda, unlike her opponent Anthony Brindisi who voted to impeach the President three times after promising he wouldn’t. Claudia is a leader and doer who will make sure we get tough with China, protect our seniors, and get our economy back on track. Claudia deserves your vote.”

Tenney also announced backing of two local police organizations, the Sherill Policeman’s Benevolent Association and the Camden Police Benevolent Association (formally known as the Harold G. Tuck PBA. Other endorsers include the New York city police Sergeants Benevolent Association, the state troopers PBA, the New York State Police Investigators and other local sheriffs and officers.

Dan Salce of the Sherill (NY) Policeman’s Benevolent Association said in part:

“Claudia has readily come to the support of local Police and Corrections department to give us a voice in State and Federal government. Her office has assisted in local Police Departments receiving federal grant money for equipment acquisitions to offset shortfalls in state and local funding. As a current candidate for Congress, Claudia has shown her unwavering support for law enforcement. She can be seen in attendance at all the local “Back the Blue” rallies. No other local politician, state or federal, has been as vocal or visible a supporter of the men and women behind the badge as Claudia Tenney. She understands the complexities of the current social justice reforms and its short comings to protect citizens. Claudia also avoided the knee jerk reaction to jump on the anti-police bandwagon. Claudia knows police belong in neighborhoods protecting its citizens, not removed.”

The Camden PBA board wrote, according to the Tenney campaign: “In these troubled times, there is no question who to vote for or endorse as Claudia Tenney has always and consistently shown steadfast support for our law enforcement and has supported our police officers during these most difficult times. The Camden Police Benevolent Association proudly endorses Claudia Tenney for Congresswoman for the 22nd District of the State of New York.”

Campaigns’ takes on Tenney event

Anthony Brindisi for Congress released the following statement after former Congresswoman Claudia Tenney falsely claimed to have held a town hall:

“There she goes again, holding fake town halls. While in office, Claudia Tenney made headlines for refusing to hold town halls and answer tough questions. Now, she’s up to her old tricks. A ‘town hall’ of campaign donors isn’t accountability, it’s the swamp and Upstate voters know that.”- Luke Jackson, Brindisi for Congress spokesman.

The statement came out after Tenney’s campaign announced it had 8,000 supporters take part in a “tele-town hall” that featured Eric Trump, son of President Donald Trump. The campaign provided a transcript quoting the younger Trump as saying in part: “It’s an honor to call you [Claudia] a friend. My father loves you. We as a family love you … And we’re going to win this thing. We’re going to win together. My father’s going to win it and you’re going to win. And where you take back the house and we’re going to hold the Senate and we’re going have another incredible Supreme Court justice very soon.”

Communications union backs Buttenschon

Fifteen-hundred members of the Communications Workers of America Local 1126 have endorsed Marianne Buttenschon for re-election to the New York State Assembly.

Local 1126 is known for representing hospital workers for safe staffing, stronger patient protection and protective equipment during the COVID 19 Pandemic.

In correspondence to Buttenschon declaring the union’s backing of the incumbent Assembly Member, Thomas Brosnan, chair of the CWA Political Action Team wrote: “It is obvious that Buttenschon knows what is important to the citizens she represents. Her work to better this area is appreciated.”


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