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Very Different Primary Seasons For Two Congressional Districts Dems Hope To Flip

KINGSTON, NY (WSKG) - Two of the congressional seats Democrats are hoping to flip this fall are in upstate New York.

One is the 19th district, which includes Oneonta, Delhi, and Cooperstown. It's represented by John Faso. The other is the 22nd, represented by Claudia Tenney. The district covers Binghamton, Cortland and Utica, among others

Democrats want to flip those seats and have had very different primary seasons.



A Crowded Field

On a hot, late May day outside of Congressman John Faso’s office in Kingston, people gathered for another Faso Friday protest against the 19th District Republican.

“Hopefully he’ll be fired in November,” said protestor Tobe Carey.

Before November, there’s primary season, and it’s a crowded field in the 19th district. Seven candidates have announced. While some have experience working in state and federal administrations, none have held elected office. Name recognition is something they all lack.

Most at this protest said they have a few candidates they prefer, a few know exactly for who they’re voting, but some are less sure.

“There’s seven of them and they’ve all asked me for their support," said Mike Agguire. "So, why am I going to assign my name to someone just because he’s a Democrat.”

There lies the issue. We have a district Democrats want to flip, think they can flip. Then there are all these first-time, relatively unknown candidates.

Aimee Swan works with the Otsego County Democrats. She said although there are a lot of candidates, but one of the country’s founding principles is that anyone can run for office.

“We talk about more people getting involved, we talk about people having service to the communities that they lived in or grew up in and I think we’re seeing that manifest here,” she said.

"We're in a heap of trouble now"

One of those people trying to get involved is Patrick Madden. He’s a Binghamton University Professor and ran in the neighboring 22nd district in part because Donald Trump won the 2016 election.

But Madden wasn’t in the race very long. Shortly after he announced Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi launched his campaign.

“Oh heck, we’re in a heap of trouble now,” Madden said, reflecting on that time.

Madden thought about his options. Brindisi had name recognition and the experience. He was more of a prototypical candidate. Not long after Brindisi entered the race, Madden pulled out. He didn’t think he could win.

“The only thing that can happen is I sort of chip away at his support,” Madden said.

Brindisi remains unchallenged for the nomination.

Unity and Energy

Grant Reeher is a Political Science professor at Syracuse University and said, in this case, having Brindisi run alone was probably a smart choice by the party.

“One school of thought, that is probably the strongest one, is better not have that candidate beaten up in any way in the primary,” Reeher said.

The 19th doesn’t have that stand-out candidate. Reeher said, in such a case, a primary is a good thing but maybe with fewer candidates.

“I’m guessing that [the Democratic party] probably would’ve liked to have had three or four vying for this rather than seven, because the problem with seven is that it’s impossible to keep track of them all.”

Reeher said what actually matters for the Democrats is uniting and energizing the party after the primary, leading up to the general election in November. Especially, in two districts that went overwhelmingly to Trump in 2016.

Primary day is June 26.