The Republican candidate for New York’s 22nd congressional district, Claudia Tenney, finally assumed office on February 15th after a heavily contested vote count that had her up by only 109 votes. This Congressional election was the last undecided race in the House of Representatives and came months after Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks won her race in Iowa by an astonishing six votes.
While most elections were decided well before the start of December, the night of November 3rd was still very uncertain for Tenney, and former Rep. Anthony Brindisi’s campaign teams. Early results showed Tenney comfortably ahead of Brindisi, and she felt “confident about the results.” Brindisi, who opted out of an election night watch party in favor of a Facebook Livestream, stated he knew was “in for a long night and likely a long couple of weeks.”
Tenney was formerly the representative for the district until she was ousted by Anthony Brindisi in the 2018 midterm elections. Brindisi defeated Tenney by 4,500 votes in an election that was widely seen as a referendum on President Trump.
In 2020, Tenney came out as a strong supporter of President Trump and the campaign to restore the economic prosperity characteristic of his presidency before the beginning of the pandemic in March last year, among other issues. Earlier that year, Trump endorsed Tenney over two other challengers for the Republican nomination, and again reinforced his support for her on October 27th.
During the campaign trail, Tenney strongly reiterated her support for President Trump as did several other New York Republicans like incumbent Rep. Elise Stefanik of northern upstate New York and newcomer Rep. Nicole Malliotakis in Staten Island.
Brindisi, on the other hand, ran as a moderate despite voting to impeach Trump twice. In a nod to the Conservative elements of his Congressional district, he chose to focus more on individual constituent complaints as opposed to involving himself in the Progressive proposals of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez.
Tenney was declared the winner on February 5th, after Judge Scott DelConte of the New York State Supreme Court ruled to certify the results of the Congressional race. While Judge DelConte acknowledged “systemic violations of federal and state election law,” he stated that the issue must be rectified by the State Board of Elections, Governor Cuomo, and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Midterm elections in 2022 are likely to be enormously competitive, especially after the results of the 2020 Census are released. Texas and Florida are set to gain congressional seats, while California and New York are on track to lose seats.
In any case, election reform and voting trends will be key for the Democrats to retain control over the Senate and the House of Representatives. Given that Republicans control the legislatures and governorships in states that are slated to gain congressional seats, it is clear that Congressional Democrats face a challenging future.