Have you heard any rumors of hotly contested races in this year’s midterms getting a bit on the nasty side? Perish the thought. We live in a civil society. But all sarcasm aside, things have apparently begun to seriously heat up in the race for New York’s 22nd district. Congresswoman Claudia Tenney is in the political fight of her life against Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi. And a new report from the New York Post reveals some internal documents from the Tenney campaign which appear to suggest that her campaign staff may be in danger because Brindisi’s family has ties to organized crime. (Okay… it does more than “appear to suggest.” They come right out and say it.)
Before going any further, some full disclosure is required on my part. I live in the 22nd district. Tenney is my Representative. I’ve voted for her, made a couple of small donations to her campaigns and participated in some campaign rallies and events in the past. I don’t know her personally and have never worked for her. Disclosure complete.
Anyway, on with our story. The Post has gotten hold of an internal memo in which Tenney staffers and volunteers are warned to be careful going out in public and instructing them to keep their eyes open for potential violence. Some incidents of bare-knuckle tactics already taking place are cited.
Rep. Claudia Tenney’s campaign in upstate New York is warning staffers their safety is at risk because the family of her Democratic opponent, Anthony Brindisi is “criminal” and “thuggish.”
The campaign cautioned staffers in a memo to “not go out at night alone,” “be aware of strange cars,” “be alert to whether you are being followed” and “examine your locks” for tampering.
The memo says the precautions are necessary because of the criminal history of Brindisi’s father and brother.
“Brindisi’s family has used their political connections to get away with violence, intimidation and thuggish behavior for years. As the Brindisi family watches Anthony’s political career end, they may return to what they know—violence and intimidation,” the memo said.
That certainly sounds menacing. But it’s not as if the story is entirely without merit, either. While perhaps not applying to the candidate himself, the Brindisi family does have a bit of “history” in the Mohawk Valley dating back to the more wild and woolly days in the 70s and early 80s when the Falcone family controlled organized crime in the Utica area. And it’s established that Brindisi’s father was an attorney who represented many clients who were, shall we say, in the family. That came to an end when his law partner was murdered in an obvious gangland hit right in their law office, though debate remains whether the partner was the target or if the elder Brindisi himself escaped execution through a case of mistaken identity.
It’s also been alleged that the candidate’s brother (who was also an employee of the city) ran a guy over with his car twice before crashing into a gas line and fleeing the scene. We have to specify “alleged” because all he received was a ticket for fleeing the scene of a property accident. It’s a convoluted story you can read about here.
None of this, however, directly implicates Anthony Brindisi himself in any criminal activity. But Tenney seems concerned about cars apparently tailing her and her staff, death threats on Facebook and slashed tires on the cars of her staff. All of this remains in the realm of allegations thus far, however, and we’re not implying that the Democrat is responsible for any of this. But anyway, if you think the race in your district is rough, try moving up here.
It still strikes me as odd that this race is as close as it is. After they recut the district lines following the 2010 census, the new version of the 22nd has been fairly reliably red, though not by overwhelming margins. Our former congressman, Richard Hanna, had little trouble claiming and keeping the seat. He won all of his races by wide margins when he was opposed. (Of course, Hanna turned out to be a RINO beyond the limits of most RINOs, being the first GOP congressman to declare he would vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016.)Tenney had a bit more of a fight in 2016 but still beat her Democratic opponent by more than 5%.
Stay tuned. This could be a wild one.