Memo · News · Press Release

The Case Against Claudia Tenney

“A lifelong Utica native, Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi is a tireless fighter for Central New York. From working to give young people the skills and training to get good-paying jobs, to fighting for affordable health care and equal pay, Anthony has worked with Republicans and Democrats to get things done. Fiercely independent, Anthony has never been afraid to stand up to members of his own party, and his profile resonates deeply in this district. Anthony knows how to win tough campaigns and is in excellent position to win in November.” –DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján

To: Interested Parties

From: Evan Lukaske, DCCC regional press secretary

Date: June 26, 2018

Re: The Case Against Claudia Tenney

Democrats are in excellent position to flip New York’s 22nd Congressional District. The general election pits independent, moderate Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi against partisan, special interest lackey Claudia Tenney. A native of Utica, Brindisi consistently wins his Republican leaning Assembly district and his independent streak and fierce loyalty to his community cuts cleanly across party lines. His candidacy contrasts sharply with Tenney, who – in addition to making news for her erratic, false statements – has consistently put special interests, rich donors and her party ahead of her constituents and what is best for her district.

Polling shows Brindisi consistently leading Tenney in this central New York district. With unprecedented grassroots energy, and the stark contrast between the independent Brindisi and self-serving partisan warrior Tenney, Democrats are in strong position to flip this seat in November.


“Tenney is one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the House. Her once reliable GOP district is now considered a toss-up by political handicappers.” [Politico, 4/27/18]

“Just when we thought Rep. Claudia Tenney could get no lower than the disparaging remarks she made about Anthony Brindisi’s family, she has managed to slither even further beneath the limbo bar with her foolish comment that a lot of mass murderers turn out to be Democrats […] What a reprehensible thing to say. It’s yet another comment for the Tenney Hall of Shame, right up there with her inane remarks last July when she tried to discredit Brindisi, who is challenging her for the seat in the 22nd Congressional District.” [Utica Observer-Dispatch, Editorial, 2/23/18]

“Democrats finally landed Anthony Brindisi, a well-liked assemblyman with an independent streak […] ‘He’s forever been on the list,’ Heck said, calling Brindisi a perfect candidate. ‘We just had never gotten anywhere with him until this year.’” [National Journal, 8/7/17]


Out for special interests, not consumers

Tenney has unfailingly put special interests and campaign donors ahead of her community. After taking thousands of dollars from big internet service providers, Tenney voted to allow internet companies to sell customers’ personal data and browsing history without their consent.

Tenney also received thousands of dollars in campaign cash from big banks and Wall Street, then turned around and voted to gut Dodd-Frank, allowing them to engage in the same risky behaviors that caused the 2008 Financial Crisis and hurt Central New York. Tenney has even voted to benefit Equifax, a company responsible for the breach of millions of consumers’ confidential information. Tenney voted to undo consumer protections against forced arbitration, meaning customers can’t sue credit agencies the next time there is a breach.

Health care repeal

Tenney voted for the deeply unpopular Republican health care repeal bill, which would have gutted pre-existing condition protections, imposed an age tax on older New Yorkers, increased deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, and done nothing to lower the price of prescription drugs. Had the bill been signed into law, it would have resulted in nearly 38,000 of Tenney’s constituents losing their health care coverage. Nonetheless, Tenney staunchly defended the bill and its draconian provisions like ending essential health benefits, saying “I don’t really care about maternity care at 56 years old.”

Even though the bill ultimately failed in the Senate, Tenney and House Republicans did succeed in causing massive spikes in New York health care premiums. Citing uncertainty in health care markets due to Republican efforts to gut the ACA, New York insurers hiked premiums on New York families an average of 15% and topping out at nearly 32% for 2018. Unfortunately, the damage is just getting started – New York insurers are now requesting premium increases averaging 24% and up to a high of 39% for 2019, again citing Republican sabotage of the health insurance market, particularly in the Republican tax bill.


Tenney’s actions disproportionately hurt seniors and older New Yorkers. Tenney supported the health care repeal bill, which would have imposed an age tax on older Americans, allowing insurers to charge them five times more than younger Americans. And only days after Tenney voted to pass the GOP Tax Scam, Republicans publicly acknowledged their intent to slash Social Security and Medicare. Tenney echoed her party leaders by expressing support for the White House budget proposal, which would cut over half a trillion dollars in funding from Medicare.

Supports tax hike bill

Tenney voted for the Republican Tax Plan, a massive giveaway to big corporations and the rich, which hits New York harder than almost any other state in the country. A key cause of the financial pain is the capping of the state and local tax deduction, a major tax break that saves New York families and homeowners thousands of dollars per year.

The Tax Scam is sure to be an anchor on Tenney’s candidacy. Since the Tax Scam’s debut and subsequent passage, it remains a deeply unpopular piece of legislation. Public polling has shown the tax plan consistently underwater.

On the trail, Tenney will have to explain to voters why 83% of the tax cuts go to the wealthiest one percent, why big corporations deserve larger tax cuts than middle-class families, why companies that have announced nearly $475 billion in stock buybacks are simultaneously laying off workers, and why she voted to blow a $1.9 trillion hole in the deficit.

Significantly, the tax bill also gutted the Affordable Care Act and the nonpartisan CBO found that it will increase health care premiums in a state where insurers are proposing premium hikes averaging 24%.

National embarrassment

It’s not often that we agree with Republicans. But few have described Tenney better than Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, who called her a “national embarrassment.”

Tenney has consistently made local, national and international headlines for her outrageous and false statements, ranging from defending disgraced Congressman Blake Farenthold, who used $84,000 in tax dollars to settle a sexual harassment complaint, to claiming most mass murderers are Democrats, to defending domestic abusers, to blaming HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s gross misuses of tax dollars on the “deep state.” And in a community with a large Italian community, she has even attacked Brindisi’s Italian heritage. Her reputation as an erratic and unhinged conspiracy theorist makes her ill-suited for public office, particularly in this moderate district.


New York’s 22nd Congressional District is a Central New York district with a history of sending moderate representatives to Congress. Former Congressman Richard Hanna—who is supporting Brindisi—was the only sitting member of Congress to publicly state he would vote for Secretary Clinton, and President Obama barely lost the district in each of his presidential runs. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand easily carried the district in 2016 and 2012, respectively.

Anthony Brindisi is in excellent position to flip this seat. With a history of breaking with his own party, and finding common ground, Brindisi’s moderate profile resonates across this Central New York district. Brindisi has worked across the aisle to increase funding for health care, skills training and public schools in his community. Importantly, Brindisi easily won reelection in an Assembly district that voted for President Trump by nearly 10 points.

Brindisi is a strong fundraiser who has outraised Tenney every single quarter he’s been in the race. Brindisi has raised more than $1.6 million and most recently filed with $1.1 million cash on hand, significantly outpacing Tenney’s $784,000 war chest.

Polling has consistently shown Brindisi ahead. An October 2017 DCCC poll had Brindisi leading Tenney, 45% to 43%, and a month later, PPP released a poll showing his lead had grown to six points: 47% Brindisi to 41% Tenney. In March 2018, a Brindisi campaign poll showed the race at 50% Brindisi to 44% Tenney and an April 2018 Zogby Analytics poll had the race at 47% Brindisi, 41% Tenney.

Please make sure that the form field below is filled out correctly before submitting.