U.S. Rep. Tom Reed announced Wednesday that he was retiring the “extreme Ithaca liberal” moniker he has used to label opponents in his three most recent campaigns.
On Tuesday, Reed, Republican of Corning, outpolled his Democratic challenger Tracy Mitrano of Penn Yan by 53.7 percent to 43.9 percent of the vote in the 11-county 23rd Congressional District.
In 2010, Reed beat Matt Zeller, 56 to 44 percent. In 2012 he beat Nate Shinagawa, 52 to 48 percent. In 2014 he beat Martha Robertson, 58 to 46. In 2016, he beat John Plumb, 58 to 41 percent.
In a post-election press call on Wednesday, Reed said, “I will be retiring the ‘extreme Ithaca liberal’ label going forward. He used the label often in both the Democratic congressional primary and in the general election.
Reed, who will become a member of the minority in the House when Democrats take over in January, said he planned to help bring Washington together with his work as co-chairman of the problem Solvers Caucus. “This will send a message, hopefully, that our door is open to anyone who wants to sit down and have a conversation.”
The Problem Solvers Caucus consists of 24 Republicans and 24 Democrats who try to reach a consensus on issues.
Reed thanked supporters, volunteers and staff. He said Mitrano ran a great campaign and wished her the best. He said he looked forward to working with her supporters in the future.
Both sides in Washington need to come together, Reed said. “The Problem Solvers will be at the forefront” pushing for House rules changes, he added.
With a narrow House margin of as few as 10 members, Democrats “will have a difficult time getting to 218,” the number of votes needed to pass a bill, Reed said. The Problem Solvers bipartisan efforts could help.
“We will be a voice,” Reed said. “We don’t want a continuation of gridlock.”
Asked why he thought Rep. Chris Collins was re-elected in the 27th District, Reed replied it was “democracy working.” Collins has been indicted on insider trading charges and lying to the FBI. His trial is scheduled in 2020. District residents share Collins’ philosophy and positions, Reed said.
Reed was also asked about the expected Democratic takeover in the New York State Senate. He said having one party in power concerned him, as did Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ambition to be on the national stage.
Reed agreed an anti-Cuomo electorate Upstate and in the Southern Tier helped his campaign. “We represent a district that spoke very clearly and loudly that they reject Cuomo and his policies,” he said.
Mitrano also held a post-election press call with district reporters, saying she hoped her supporters would take inspiration and hope from the campaign “and not be drawn into the negativeness that has taken over American politics. We want to unite people around this district.”
Mitrano said she was happy Democrats took control of the House in the midterm elections, adding she was “very excited about the future.”
She was mum on whether she would run again in two years.
“Right now there is no answer to that because whoever runs in 2020 has to make sure they have full support of people all over the district,” she said.
She said there might be a better candidate than her “less disposed of to be mischaracterized,” adding she would advise a future candidate to hire a public relations firm to offset negative advertising.
“This is why good people don’t run,” she said. “They don’t want to be so grossly mischaracterized and maligned.”
With Mitrano winning only Tompkins County out of all counties in the district and overall losing by 9 percentage points, she said she “would have liked to have done better in a few areas.”
“It’s an uphill climb,” she said of running in the district.
There were five Democrats on the primary ballot in June, and as many as a dozen Democrats in the primary race at one point. The general election between June and November “was very short,” she said. She advised Democrats to begin preparing for 2020 in January 2019.
Mitrano said “socialized medicine” and open injection sites” became popular Reed campaign phrases as she favored a single-payer health care system and the ability of communities in New York to host safe injection sites as a way to help curb heroin/opioid abuse.
The 23rd Congressional District is red, but a Democratic win is not impossible as evidenced by former Rep. Eric Massa who won two terms in Congress before resigning, Mitrano said.
“My only hope is that Mr. Reed listens to the campaign and what people need in this district,” Mitrano said.
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)