In a hard-fought election decided by a margin smaller than any poll had predicted, incumbent Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y. 29) edged out Democratic challenger Nate Shinagawa ’05 M.A. ’09, clinching 51 percent of the vote and winning the race for New York’s 23rd Congressional District.
James Drader, chairman of the Tompkins County Republican Party, said he was confident that Reed would continue to be an effective advocate for not only “fiscal responsibility,” but also for Tompkins County in general.
“Reed has represented the district well for two years, and I think he’ll continue in the same vein,” Drader said. “We’re headed down the path to Greece, and I think Tom Reed is going to be one of the ones to stop it.”
The mood at Reed’s headquarters in Corning was ecstatic, as Reed addressed his supporters late Tuesday night.
“These campaigns are grueling, but it was a team effort that was successful tonight, and I really do appreciate it,” he said.
Reed pledged to “be a strong voice in Washington [D.C.] for this area, for our state [and] for this region,” emphasizing the need for national unity and a focus on the issues.
“It’s time to come together as a country to solve these problems,” he said, citing the unemployment rate and debt crisis. “First up, we need to put the political rhetoric and the political bickering aside.”
He also promised to fight for the needs of his constituents.
“We’re [going to] get out there every day like we have in the 29th Congressional District,” he said.
Despite his loss, Shinagawa spoke optimistically in his concession speech.
“We did a very good job,” Shinagawa said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t come close enough. And unfortunately, we lost this race 49 to 51. But that’s okay, because we showed in this race that, even though we were outspent three to one, we could come within just a few thousand votes of victory.”
Shinagawa thanked his family, campaign staff, Democratic officials and organizations who assisted his campaign –– as well as Reed.
“I would like to thank Congressman Reed for this campaign, for this very, very hard-fought battle, and I wish him success as a Congressman. I hope that he will be able to represent everybody inside of this district,” Shinagawa said.
Shinagawa also struck an emotional note when he reflected on the conversation he had with his grandfather, who was the first person he called after the election.
“My grandfather said to me … isn’t it amazing that just two generations ago he was in the Japanese-American internment camps as a 10 year old and thought of as a traitor to this country … isn’t it amazing that just two generations that just two generations later, [I was] able to run for Congress,” Shinagawa said.
Local Democrats echoed Shinagawa’s statements and praised the efforts of his campaign in narrowing the race against significant odds.
“I think Nate ran an excellent campaign in a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats and where he was outspent three to one. For him to close that gap and almost pull off this upset is something special,” said Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick ’09.
Myrick also criticized national Democratic organizations, particularly the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, for ignoring Shinagawa’s race.
“Nate got outspent three to one, but lost by fewer than 5,000 votes,” Myrick said. “The DCCC ignored this race from the beginning. They thought a Democrat didn’t have a chance in this district. They didn’t know this Democrat. With no national support, he lost 49 to 51. They’ll pay attention next time.”
Irene Stein, chair of the Tompkins County Democratic Party, agreed with Myrick’s assessment of the race.
“It was incredibly close. For a Democratic challenger to come so close to beating an incumbent Republican in this district is remarkable,” Stein said. “[Nate] certainly has a chance in a future race. If Tom Reed continues on the road he’s been on, we’ll challenge him again and I hope it will be with Nate Shinagawa.”
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Original Author: Matthew Rosenspire