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Most tea party primary challenges to GOP incumbents in Congress are sure losers, largely because the tea party candidates have little political experience, no name recognition, and no money.

That will not be the case in NY-22, where Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney today announced that she will primary Congressman Richard Hanna.

Tenney and Hanna were both elected to their current jobs in the big tea party year, 2010. Tenney says she's running because Hanna betrayed basic tea party principles by voting twice to increase the debt limit (and avoid a first-ever default); she also does not like that Hanna is moderate on the social issues that concern the GOP base -- abortion and gay equality.

Tenney is no dittohead yahoo, and may well win both the primary and the general.

Why, below.


Tenney is a lawyer, and is quite articulate from what I've heard on Fred Dicker's radio show, where she's been a frequent guest.

She has lots of political experience -- two terms in the Assembly, six years as chief of staff and legal counsel to her Assembly predecessor, and "has deep political roots":

Her late father, John Tenney, was a state Supreme Court justice and Oneida County Republican chairman, and her grandfather was chairman of the Madison County GOP and a state party leader.
Her family has money -- they own a weekly pennysaver chain and printing business, both of which have helpfully put her in contact with hundreds of local business owners who give to politicians, for more money.

The GOP base is likely to turn out, even for an uncustomary June primary, to nominate and elect a tea party champion who announced her campaign while "waving a tea party banner."

Tenney will appeal to the gun nut part of the base because she voted against the SAFE Act (Gov. Cuomo's omnibus gun control bill that has enraged the NRA dittoheads). Tenney will appeal to the anti-choice and anti-gay parts of the base because she's doctrinaire conservative on those issues and Hanna is not.

On the minus side for Tenney, Hanna is the incumbent and has money too.

Her Assembly District is only partly in NY-22, maybe as little as 20 percent. In most of NY-22, she has little name recognition.

There is, so far, no sign that national funders of tea party primary challengers are interested in NY-22.

Hanna beat a tea party primary challenger by more than 2-1 in 2012.

On the Democratic side, we lost this one (with Dan Lamb, an aide to former Congressman Maurice Hinchey, who had represented the southern part of the new NY-22) by 3-2 in a year when Obama did well in NY.

Perhaps because of that, Charlie Cook has rated this R+3 district as "Solid Republican."

But Cook presumes Hanna as the candidate, and sees no viable Democrat challenger out there.

The very real possibility that Hanna could lose this primary to a tea partier will certainly encourage viable Democrats (electeds or others) to give this race another look.

NY-22 would be an unlikely Dem win this year, but it's a little more possible if a nasty GOP primary bloodies their ultimate nominee.    


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

    by devtob on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 06:09:00 PM PDT

  •  Hanna is the only pro-choice Republican Congressma (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob, NorthCountryNY, NeverThere

    I think that makes him have a huge target on his back in the primary.

    "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is." - George W Bush

    by jfern on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 06:42:59 PM PDT

    •  For an allegedly spontaneous movement (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      solely concerned with limited government and the national debt, tea partiers seem extraordinarily interested in government interference with women's reproductive choices.

      Because they are really just a media-assisted rebranding of the same old Republican right that, since Reagan, has been resolutely anti-choice.

      A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

      by devtob on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 07:06:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not true, but almost (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Shelly Moore-Capito (R-WV)
      Charlie Dent (R-PA)

      Capito is going to have a rough time in the WV primary because she doesn't want to ban abortion.

  •  A TeaBagger win just might stir (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob, petral

    the Dem base.  Lord knows nothing else has.  The Hanna name has been around Utica politics since Christ rode dinosaurs.
    – winkk from NY-21

    Follow Connect! Unite! Act! MeetUp events! For live podcasting of your Event contact winkk to schedule.

    by winkk on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 10:16:24 PM PDT

  •  A "credible" tea partier? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirk McQuigley, devtob

    How many impossible things can you believe before breakfast?  The Mad Hatters of the Tea Party are f'ing 'credible, but never credible.

    Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

    by benamery21 on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 10:17:16 PM PDT

  •  Credible Tea Partier is an oxymoron (0+ / 0-)

    Credible challenger emerges from the Tea Party would have probably been a better headline. But dear god, please avoid using the phrase credible tea partier.

    •  Tenney is credible not just (0+ / 0-)

      because she's a proud tea partier, but mostly because she's an elected state representative with strong establishment Republican roots and access to family money.

      A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

      by devtob on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 04:37:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Democrats (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    need to find a credible candidate quickly. Maybe former Rep. Michael Arcuri, the Democrat who held this seat for two terms, before losing to Hanna in the 2010 election, would be receptive to putting his name on the ballot?

    If Hanna wins the primary, it's unlikely Democrats could win this, but if Tenney wins, Democrats would have a chance, especially considering all of the bad blood Tenney would have created in the Republican ranks.

    This race is the perfect example of why Democrats need not only a 50-state strategy, but a 435-District strategy, whereby they get at least some kind of a credible candidate to run in every single Congressional District, no matter how bad the odds look.

    Situations like these can turn a hopeless race into a pickup opportunity for Democrats pretty quickly.

    •  Having a bench of credible, ambitious candidates (0+ / 0-)

      in every CD is a bridge too far in Alabama, but should not be a problem in upstate NY.

      It seems that it is, so far, in NY-22. Hopefully that will change soon.

      A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

      by devtob on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 04:48:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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