Analysis: Rep. Tom Reed resignation results in ‘multilevel mess’ | Govt. & Politics News

Republican leaders throughout New York’s sprawling 23rd Congressional District are today dealing with a major case of political confusion stemming from former Rep. Tom Reed’s Tuesday resignation from the House seat he held for almost 12 years.

And none are happy about it.

Reed said he resigned to take a job with Prime Policy Group, a bipartisan public policy group founded by longtime Republican lobbyist Charlie Black.

County GOP officials and state Chairman Nicholas A. Langworthy question why the Corning-based Reed would suddenly leave Congress for a lobbying post amid the state’s redistricting effort in legal limbo and subject voters to even more uncertainty through a special election to fill the post for the rest of 2022.

“I’m very unhappy with the current circumstances. There was absolutely no communication beforehand,” Langworthy said Wednesday. “We are now faced with the cost of running a special election and an inordinate amount of political confusion thrust upon the voters.

“This is a lot of burden on ordinary people in the summer months,” Langworthy said. “It is totally unnecessary.”

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Young was previously mentioned as a candidate for the Reed seat until preliminary reapportionment lines thrust Rep. Claudia Tenney of Oneida County and her brimming campaign fund into the Southern Tier district’s GOP field.

Allegany County Chairman Mike Healy also did not hold back.

“It really is unfortunate we have to go through all this,” he said. “I don’t know why Mr. Reed just couldn’t wait.”

Cattaraugus County Chairman Robert Keis said Reed seems to have forgotten the local support following his resignation stemming from reports of a woman receiving his unwanted sexual attention. Keis thinks that support saved Reed from being “drummed out of Congress.”

“He could have had the common decency to notify us,” the chairman said. “But there has basically been nothing.”

Indeed, Reed’s departure leaves Republicans reeling as they grapple with a host of uncertainties hinging on congressional districts that have yet to be finalized. They have no shortage of candidates, but they remain frozen until a special master appointed by a state judge unveils new lines drawn as a result of legal challenges reaching all the way to the Court of Appeals.

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“It’s just a multi-level mess,” Keis said. “There’s no other way to put it.”

Issues facing the GOP include:

• Finding a candidate for a summer special election to replace Reed until his term expires on Jan. 1. Few are committing to anything until new lines are released Monday by the special master, Jonathan Cervas, in the Bath courtroom of State Supreme Court Justice Patrick F. McAllister. Nobody yet knows whether the traditional Southern Tier congressional district will be preserved or divided.

• Choosing from among a bevy of Republican candidates, which sources say includes former State Sen. Cathy Young of Olean, Steuben County Republican Chairman Joe Sempolinski and State Sen. George M. Borrello of Sunset Bay. Young had been considered a top prospect when Reed announced last year he would not seek a seventh term, but retreated when Rep. Claudia Tenney of Oneida County said she and her $ 1.15 million campaign account would move to the Reed district and run.

• Deciding whether to run a Republican for this summer’s special election to fill the Reed term, and nominating that candidate for the November general election, or naming a placeholder for the special. But the placeholder idea appears to be gaining few backers.

• Presenting to voters a special election, possibly on Aug. 2, for the rest of Reed’s term, followed by a possible primary on Aug. 28, followed by still another contest in the Nov. 8 general election. The races include the possibility of circulating new designating petitions.

• And what to do about Tenney? The congresswoman has spent much of her recent time moving about what appeared to be a new Southern Tier district reaching up into southern Erie County. She has even benefited from Buffalo fundraisers. But all that stems from redistricting that appeared to largely preserve the Reed district – before the state courts ruled the new districts gerrymandered and unconstitutional. Now Tenney, and everyone else, wonders whether she will still move to the Southern Tier or return to her home turf in New Hartford.

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Tenney now presents a problem to some.

“There is not a lot of support for putting Claudia in there, because she does not live in Tom’s district,” Keis said. “I have responsibilities to someone who lives here.”

Now, new attention is focused on Young and her impressive record of attracting votes while previously serving in the Assembly and Senate. After failing to win the Senate minority leader post in 2019, she left Albany for an executive position with the Geneva campus of Cornell University. She was considered a top candidate to succeed Reed.

But when the State Legislature drew new district lines earlier this year, after a new Independent Redistricting Commission remained hopelessly deadlocked, Tenney appeared on the Southern Tier scene.

Healy said he likes all the possible candidates, though he noted Young’s name recognition, especially in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties. Keis said he has always supported Young throughout her career, but is waiting for more clarity about the district lines.

“We have three excellent candidates besides Claudia,” he added.

Democratic leaders appear to have settled on Max Della Pia, an Air Force veteran from Tioga County who declared back in November. Cattaraugus County Democratic Chairman Frank Puglisi has also been mentioned.

Reed announced his resignation on the House floor Tuesday, and he later told The Buffalo News he will work for Prime Policy Group, a bipartisan public policy organization founded by longtime Republican lobbyist Charlie Black. He said he decided to resign now because of the immediate opportunity and his view that Congress will accomplish little as the November election approaches.


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