Reed’s nonstop race for Congress

Each time U.S. Rep. Tom Reed has won election, his opponent has emerged quite quickly.

As is usually the case just months after the Congressional election, U.S. Rep. Tom Reed is wearing his customary bullseye again. As noted in this newspaper last week, the Democrats are looking to name someone — fairly soon — to run against the District 23 official who has won election three times.

Democratic representatives from the 11 counties in the district met recently in Hornell to discuss their options for 2018.

The strategy is nothing new — and dates back to when Reed’s first challenger in Nate Shinagawa emerged. In a close race, Shinagawa fell short and — despite party pleas — left the campaign trail for other endeavors.

Martha Robertson followed in Shinagawa’s footsteps in April 2013 and though she was a champion in spearheading a number of regional efforts in Tompkins County, she was positioned too far left even for many Democrats in 2014.

Enter John Plumb, a Randolph native with a military background, last spring. But Plumb started his campaign slowly and never fully gained momentum despite extremely polished showings at the public debates. Even if he did win election, Plumb would probably be just as frustrated today as he was when he made a stop in Dunkirk in the middle of September discussing a troubled Congress. “These problems aren’t being solved,” he said on that crisp fall day. “It doesn’t have to be this way.”

Some, including county Democratic chairman Norman Green, hope he considers a second run.

“Two potential candidates from our county were offered and one spoke,” he said. “I am also holding out hope that Lakewood’s John Plumb will make another run for Congress in 2018, but the Democratic leadership is preparing a backup plan right now.”

Does anyone in the district have the power to beat Reed? A lot of the Congressman’s future rides with the efforts of current President Donald Trump. Reed has been a loyal follower of Trump, which has fueled the Democrats’ efforts to defeat the Corning Republican.

As Trump reaches the 100-day milestone this weekend, his administration’s biggest disappointment thus far has to do with the health-care issue. In late March, the charade — by both parties — was a debacle. Lack of communication and serious confusion led to fellow Republicans backing away from the reform of the Affordable Care Act. Reed stood on the side of reform even though the alternative was never clear — and created a battlefield from Washington to Albany.

It was the exact reason why the common person cannot stand the political arena. Health care is tough enough to make sense of when you pay for and have a plan. To attempt to rush something through — only 63 days after new leadership — does not fix a plan that also has its flaws. It only created fear.

Social media is an absurdity on issues like these. It takes sound bites or quote-cutting to help an undisciplined audience try to make sense of something that needs in-depth analysis — by the constituents and the politicians.

Since January, Reed has shown some leadership in his party by continuing to hold town hall meetings. He made national news in February during his gatherings with constituents around the county, including Cherry Creek and Ashville.

All included contentious crowds — and he kept his cool, which is more than you could say for U.S. Rep. Chris Collins who has refused to hold town hall meetings, and our former U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, who would not hold town hall meetings here before he voted on the Affordable Care Act. He told us then that he knew all of Western New York wanted Obamacare.

That wasn’t acceptable either, but our area — and nation — seemed a lot more tolerant of differing views almost seven years ago.

John D’Agostino is the OBSERVER publisher. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call 366-3000, ext. 401.


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