After a disappointing loss in the midterm election last year to four-time incumbent Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) for New York’s 23rd Congressional District seat, Tracy Mitrano J.D. ’95 is back and ready to launch a second attempt to win the district.
“I’m running again because I love this region. I love the beauty of the land and of the passion, power, and resiliency of the people,” Mitrano said in a statement to The Sun.
Mitrano, a graduate of Cornell Law School, has been buoyed by widespread Democratic Party support. She has already achieved the endorsements of several county committees, as reported by the Ithaca Journal, making a primary challenger less likely.
In her unsuccessful run last cycle, Mitrano spoke out in favor of developing infrastructure, energizing environmental protections, legalizing cannabis and decreasing interest rates on college loans, The Sun previously reported. Having formerly served as director of information technology policy for Cornell, Mitrano’s last campaign also paid unusually specific heed to developing cybersecurity initiatives.
A tough primary fight last election cycle left Mitrano with only $8,000 for her campaign, but a narrow victory allowed her to raise “more than a million and half dollars in a short two and half months,” said Diane Lechner, the former chair of the Tioga county Democratic committee, in an interview with The Journal.
“She developed a dedicated group of 1,300 volunteers who have already hit the ground running, and she has broad appeal,” Lechner continued.
But despite Mitrano’s grassroots support, Reed will likely once again prove stiff competition for the Cornell alumna. Outside Ithaca’s environs, the 23rd district — which has a high population of working class white voters — has moved steadily to the right in recent years, voting for President Trump by an almost 18 point margin. Prominent election handicapper Sabato’s Crystal Ball rates the upcoming election as “Likely Republican.”
Beyond facing unfavorable partisan makeup, Mitrano also struggled to gain a financial edge against a longtime incumbent buoyed by a red district: In spite of impressive fundraising numbers, according to the Federal Election Committee, Mitrano was outraised and outspent by Reed by almost two million dollars in 2018.
Still, Mitrano, who gave Reed his closest race since 2012, remains undeterred. “Let me tell you — these people are ready for change. I can feel it in the air and I can hear it in their voices,” she said.
Reed — who garnered Trump’s enthusiastic Twitter endorsement ahead of the 2018 midterms — has largely hued to Republican orthodoxy during his time in Congress, supporting most party priorities.
“President Trump is bringing the disruption to these policies and these areas that he promised he was going to,” Reed said, as reported by The New York Times, “I’ve expressed concerns with his rhetoric and style. But what he is doing is what he set out to do.”
He notably supported the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the passage of the tax overhaul bill and has spoken disapprovingly of gun control measures.
In her reelection bid, Mitrano is banking that she can leverage these positions, which have proved controversial with some constituents, to bring swing voters to her side.
“We are facing real problems here. Our downtowns are struggling, extreme weather is pushing our farmers to a breaking point, opioids are ravaging our communities, debt is threatening our students’ futures. People are sick and tired of waiting for big-money politicians to deliver on years of broken promises,” Mitrano told The Sun.
Mitrano will officially launch her 2020 campaign on Thursday, September 12 at 5 p.m. in Corning, New York.