A 34-year-old Olean native who says he has watched the decline of the city and other parts of the 23rd Congressional District plans to announce his candidacy for Congress soon.
Andrew McCarthy, a 2004 Olean High School graduate who grew up on West Henley Street, works for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. He said Monday he plans a formal announcement in the next few weeks.
McCarthy said he began formulating his plan to run for Congress before Rep. Tom Reed’s recent announcement that he wouldn’t run for re-election or for New York governor. McCarthy planned to run in a Republican primary and challenge Reed if the Corning congressman had decided to run for a seventh two-year term.
Reed took himself out of any upcoming elections after a former lobbyist accused him of sexual misconduct in a bar in Minneapolis in 2017. He admitted to having a drinking problem at the time.
Now, if there is a Republican primary in whatever congressional district Olean is included, McCarthy thinks a likely candidate would be former state Sen. Catharine M. Young of Olean, who is now director of the New York Center for Excellence in Food and Agriculture at Cornell University. She resigned her Senate seat two years ago.
Young, he agreed, knows Albany, but he knows Washington. “She knows Albany really well, but she can’t do my job in D.C. She doesn’t know D.C.”
McCarthy added, “Public service is where I want to be. I’m addicted to policy and working through the weeds.”
McCarthy has also had some campaign experience — in a Virginia congressional race in 2018.
Cattaraugus County Republican Chairman Robert C. Keis Sr. has previously expressed support for Young if she decides to run for Congress.
McCarthy, a self-described “Reagan Republican,” said he felt a “lack of assertiveness” on the part of Reed for the past several years.
McCarthy said he didn’t see Reed doing anything to address “the decreasing level of activity” on Olean’s North Union Street. Nothing happened as the American Olean Tile Co. packed up and left town, following a long line of manufacturers.
He doesn’t think Reed’s role as co-chairman of the House Problem Solvers Caucus did much to help his 23rd Congressional District.
A social conservative, McCarthy feels attuned to the Southern Tier despite living in the Washington area. Over the past year of COVID-19, he has divided his time between his D.C.-area condo and his parents’ Olean home — both his parents are longtime educators.
McCarthy graduated from Jamestown Community College in Olean, which he attended after graduation from Olean High School. He then attended Old Dominion University of Virginia, where he received a bachelor’s degree in communications. After graduation he found work in the financial services sector.
McCarthy favors pro-life issues and maintaining strong borders. He sees himself bridging populists with Ronald Reagan conservatives.
McCarthy said he can’t think of a better presidential candidate than Donald Trump in 2024, and channels some of the former president’s policies including tariffs. McCarthy said, like Trump, he places the economy first and is “big on national security.”
“I’d love to be a free-market guy, but the free market has let down the Olean area,” he said in an interview with the Olean Times Herald.
After five years in the financial markets sector, McCarthy said he took an unpaid internship with the House Financial Services Committee, where he enjoyed being involved in policy. In his current post as strategic communications officer with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), he is often called upon to brief members of Congress.
The NGA, an arm of the Department of Defense, collects, analyzes and reports on geospatial intelligence in regard to national security.
If McCarthy had been in Congress on Jan. 6, would he have voted to certify the presidential election results that showed Joe Biden the winner over Trump?
“It’s a tough call,” McCarthy replied. “Hindsight is 20-20. Things are a little bit clearer now than back then. I agree that the election was fair and square.”
However, McCarthy said he believes many district residents thought the election had been stolen from Trump and he would not have voted to certify the election in early January. “It was a gray area over-polluted with politics on both sides.”
The Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol “was out of control,” he added.
McCarthy agrees that there is a 50-50 chance that the 23rd Congressional District will look very different after the redistricting process in Albany as New York is expected to lose two congressional districts. The sprawling 23rd’s parts could be absorbed into three or more other districts.
“I’m willing to run whether or not it is redistricted and whether or not Cathy Young is running,” McCarthy said. He thought he’d be announcing a primary campaign against Reed.
McCarthy plans to make presentations to a couple of tea party groups prior to making an official announcement, he said. He plans to formally announce his candidacy later this month.
“Where I grew up is a beautiful area,” McCarthy said. “If we don’t take care of the economic picture quickly we will lose. We compete with people all over the world. Little by little, the jobs are being chipped away. I can fix it.”