22nd Congressional Race Heats Up

New York’s 22nd congressional district is one of the most competitive House seats in the United States this year. Home to Hamilton College, the massive district includes eight counties in Central New York and stretches from the Pennsylvania border in Broome County to the Adirondack mountains. State Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney (R), independent Martin Babinec of Little Falls, and Broome County Legislator Kim Myers (D) are running for the seat. Last year, incumbent Congressman Richard Hanna announced his retirement after three terms in office. Hanna, one of the most liberal Republicans in the House of Representatives, also became the first House Republican to announce his support for Hillary Clinton and this sparked outrage among local Republican organizations. 

Tenney is a New Hartford-based attorney and small business owner. She has battled corruption her entire career; she was the first member of the New York State Assembly to call for the resignation of former Assembly Speaker and corrupt felon Sheldon Silver. Based on her successful track record and bold leadership, it is evident that Tenney is the most qualified candidate to represent the people of the 22nd district. 

In 2014, Tenney challenged Hanna in the Republican primary, but narrowly lost. During the primary, Tenney faced an uphill battle; despite starting with few resources, she garnered massive support and national media attention. She battled against the Republican establishment and faced opposition from two Super PACs. Had the election been held a few weeks later, Tenney would have won.

In the 2016 Republican primary, Tenney faced businessman Steve Wells and George Phillips, a Broome County history teacher. Despite being outspent ten to one by Albany and DC special interests, Tenney won 41% of the vote. Steve Wells and George Phillips received 34% and 25% respectively. Additionally, Tenney battled against a barrage of false attack ads from Grow the Economy PAC. Oneida Nation Enterprises CEO Ray Halbritter funded the super PAC.

Democrat Kim Myers ran unopposed during primary season. Funding will not be a problem for Myers; her father, Dick Stack, founded Dick’s Sporting Goods in 1948. Myers is a partial owner in the corporation and her brother, Ed Stack, is the CEO. Although started in the region, the company relocated its headquarters from upstate New York to Pennsylvania to take advantage of lower tax rates. Interestingly, Myers voted to raise taxes while in office. It seems that Myers is more concerned with maximizing her dividend income than the livelihoods of the working people of upstate New York. Hannah Andrews, Tenney’s communications director, remarked: “Kim Myers is a millionaire heiress who acts as though she is entitled to the job of representing the constituents of NY-22. Her family business, Dick’s Sporting Goods, which she uses to justify her candidacy, has a long record of hurting New York workers. Despite claiming to support minimum wage increases, union labor and American workers, Kim Myers has made millions at their expense through her company’s practices. The truth is, she puts herself first—whether it’s before children, families or New York’s manufacturing workers.”

Furthermore, an audit report released by the New York State Comptroller in 2014 revealed that the Vestal School District fell into fiscal mismanagement while Myers served as president of the school board. “Even though Myers hiked taxes as a board member, teachers, counselors and teacher’s aides were cut,” Andrews stated. “Multi-millionaire Kim Myers does not deserve to represent the taxpayers of our community.”

Recent polls reflect such concerns. According to a poll released by the National Republican Congressional Committee earlier this month, Tenney has a six-point lead on Myers. It is clear that Tenney has the momentum going into the race, but polls may tighten as Myers begins to spend massive amounts of money campaigning. If so, the debates will be essential for a Tenney victory. Tenney has a history of successful debates, and Myers will likely crumble in the upcoming ones. However, Myers’ unlimited access to money will allow her to hide behind false attack ads and political consultants.