Tomorrow, voters across New York’s 23rd congressional district will decide whether longtime representative Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) or Democratic challenger Tracy Mitrano J.D. ’95 will represent them in Congress.
Reed has served the district since 2010. In the House of Representatives, Reed sits on the Ways and Means Committee, which makes recommendations regarding tax bills and other revenue-generating legislature to the House. Reed was endorsed by President Donald J. Trump on Oct. 22, when the President tweeted that Reed has done a “great job” and that “he has my complete and total Endorsement!” According to FiveThirtyEight, a non-partisan polling website, Reed has voted alongside President Trump’s position 96.6 percent of the time.
Mitrano, a former Cornell employee, decided to run for Congress after the last election when she realized that Congress lacked a data security expert. Running as a moderate Democrat, Mitrano was endorsed by Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick ’09.
Reed and Mitrano have gone head-to-head in three debates in the past two weeks. While Ithaca has consistently voted for the Democratic candidate for Congress, New York’s 23rd district has been a hearty red district, re-electing Reed by a margin of more than 15 percent in the past two elections. The district also includes “pivot counties” — counties that voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, but for Trump in 2016.
Still, Mitrano’s camp has asserted that the nationally posited “blue wave” is strong enough to allow her to win, and that her self-described “centrist” campaign is appealing to voters.
New York’s 23rd district lacks significant polling statistics, but Mitrano’s campaign has advertised a poll that shows her trailing Reed by two percentage points. FiveThirtyEight projects the race as “likely” Republican, with Reed collecting 53.3 percent of the popular vote, and Mitrano receiving 46.7 percent.
THE 2ND AMENDMENT
Mitrano, although a recipient of an “F” rating from the National Rifle Association, is a “proud” gun-owner, according to The New York Times. Mitrano supports background checks and looks to eliminate loopholes in legislation, including the “gun show loophole.”
Mitrano cited recent tragedies in her support for safeguards and believes that individuals with a history of domestic violence should also be prohibited from purchasing firearms.
The Democratic candidate also has repeatedly criticized the NRA’s — as well as other lobbies’ — power over Congress.
With Reed’s campaign website featuring a picture of him posing with a firearm, as well as an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, Reed has positioned himself as a champion for gun owners’ rights.
In Congress, Reed has co-sponsored a bill to validate concealed carry permits across state lines, which passed in the House.
Reed also opposes the SAFE Act, a gun law passed in 2013 that requires background checks from ammunition vendors, among other regulations. Reed has repeatedly called for its repeal, describing it as state “overreach.”
Describing the country as one of immigrants, Mitrano said during the debate, according to, and hosted by, the Olean Times Herald, on Friday that “our own tradition of immigration is at stake.”
A supporter of the DREAM Act, Mitrano has also publicly spoken out against the separation of families at the southern border.
Citing the needs of dairy farmers in the district, Mitrano supports the expansion of the H2A visa. “Our dairy farmers require laborers year-round, not just during a harvest season,” reads Mitrano’s campaign website.
During Friday’s debate, Reed reaffirmed his support for the border wall, saying the country “need[s] a secure border.”
In July, following public outrage due to family separations at the southern border, Reed voted for a House resolution that expressed its support for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel and denounced the concept of abolishing ICE.
Reed has also demonstrated general support for immigration for economic purposes, saying in Friday’s debate that “we want to make sure our farmers get access to the labor they need.”
Mitrano is a proponent of a single-payer health care system. In a single-payer system, health care is financed by a single public entity through taxes, and all residents are covered for essential medical services.
“I think a single-payer system that is brought in incrementally but is designed to have coverage for everyone, is the best way to go,” Mitrano said at a town hall event hosted by Cornell Democrats. “I believe that our problem right now is that there is no real competition in the market,” she said.
At the same event, Mitrano also criticized rising drug prices and pharmaceutical companies.
Calling the Affordable Care Act a “failed solution” on his website, Reed has criticized the program for “robbing” other programs. In Congress, Reed voted in favor of repealing and replacing the ACA, commonly known as Obamacare.
At Friday’s debate, Reed called for a more “transparent marketplace,” and said that a single-payer system would “bankrupt America.”
Reed promotes decreasing baseline costs of health care as a way to decrease the costs of health insurance.
Broadly, Mitrano believes in environmental protections, citing flooding in some districts as evidence of her opponents’ dismissal of the issue. Mitrano further believes that the federal government should be allocating more money toward climate change research.
Mitrano also supports the allocation of federal and state funding to address issues in the Southern Tier, including water quality and the cleanup of low levels of radiation found in West Valley.
Mitrano further opposes certain economic initiatives, such as “hydrofracking,” citing potential negative environmental outcomes.
Although Reed does not list environmental concerns on his website, his office published a statement in 2014 calling the ban on hydraulic fracking “devastating,” saying that the ban “effectively blocks the development of natural gas and oil resources in New York State.”
In July, Reed supported a vote to oppose the carbon tax, according to polling website FiveThirtyEight.
In a September statement, Reed announced that $75 million had been allocated in the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill to the West Valley to assist in the cleanup efforts.