Tenney wants state GOP aboard Trump train

Claudia Tenney gives a thumbs-up after voting at a polling site in Canandaigua, N.Y., Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022. Tenney is running in the Republican congressional primary for New York's 22nd District. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Claudia Tenney wasted little time in the first week of the new year to make her voice heard regarding this year’s presidential election. As the U.S. representative who serves a portion of Western New York and the Finger Lakes, her endorsement announcement was bound to send some shock waves through the state party.

“It was an incredible experience to serve during President Donald Trump’s first term,” she said in making the statement last week. “President Trump’s visionary and bold leadership secured the border, put our economy in overdrive by lowering taxes, cutting unnecessary regulations and unleashing American energy independence. President Trump provided us with safer communities and global stability. Under Biden’s feckless and pathetic tenure, illegal migrants are flooding our communities, crime is rampant and unchecked, Bidenflation is crushing families and dangerous and costly wars are breaking out across the globe.”

Two years ago, Tenney was in line to possibly represent our region in the House of Representatives. But after a number of legal challenges and a redrawing of the lines regarding Congressional districts, she was ultimately placed in a location farther north and east stretching into the Watertown area.

Her voice, no matter how conservative, carries some clout. Whether other state Republicans will join in Tenney’s endorsement remains a question.

Trump’s first venture into the race for presidency before the 2016 vote had many on the right side who represented New York state with cold feet at the time. No one knew whether to get in line or tiptoe the idea.

Once Trump’s party endorsement became official, those who were tepid followed. It wasn’t always easy — or comfortable — but Trump was the choice.

This year is almost as difficult for those same Republicans. As Nikki Haley continues to make strides — despite making major gaffes no elected leader is immune to — Trump remains the road block despite his constant legal troubles.

On Wednesday, Republicans Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis faced off in the first one-on-one debate of the 2024 election cycle. At the same time, Trump was doing his best to dim their spotlight by participating in a town hall.

These competing events were days before the leadoff presidential caucuses in Iowa as candidates issued last-minute appeals to voters to turn out for the Monday contest, which could be the coldest caucus night ever.

On a New York state front, Tenney will not be alone in her allegiance to Trump. U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, who represents portions of eastern New York as well as the Adirondacks in Congress, also has a strong loyalty to our 45th president.

Last month, her grilling of prominent university presidents from Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania during an antisemitism hearing won plaudits from both sides of the aisle. In a The New York Times opinion piece this week, it noted Stefanik as someone who could be tapped for vice president because she “is in no danger of ever outshining Mr. Trump. Her past as a more moderate, business-friendly Republican might offer comfort to some non-MAGA voters.”

This region’s current U.S. Rep. Nick Langworthy also has a friendly history of siding with Trump in the 2016 and 2020 elections. But late last March, in an interview with Spectrum News, he was lukewarm to support any one candidate, noting he welcomed as many as possible to highlight the Biden administration’s failures.

Without Langworthy at the helm of the New York Republican State Committee, the party appears as if it is not as unified or vocal. Ed Cox, current and past state chair, may know the insiders but he cannot rally the troops the way Langworthy could in the past.

Tenney already senses that, which is why she got ahead of the rest of the state party with her message of support for Trump. Republicans in New York, without Langworthy’s leadership, appear to be languishing and losing whatever momentum they could be gaining during what some consider — on both sides — a disappointing Joe Biden presidency.

John D’Agostino is the editor of The Post-Journal, OBSERVER and Times Observer in Warren, Pa. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call 716-487-1111, ext. 253.


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