Several Candidates Lining Up To Challenge Reed

Potential congressional candidates on the Democratic side are lining up in hopes of challenging U.S. Rep. Tom Reed in the November 2018 general election.

The conclusion of the 2016 election not only marked the beginning of a new Republican administration, but also initiated a new election cycle.

Prospective Democratic candidates throughout the sprawling 23rd Congressional District are beginning to announce their intentions for a run at Reed’s seat. They include Rick Gallant, a teacher and union leader from Corning, and Ian Golden, a businessman from Ithaca.

Eddie Sundquist, a 2007 Jamestown High School graduate and attorney for Lewis & Lewis, is also set to announce his bid for Congress. Sundquist told The Post-Journal he’ll officially be announcing his candidacy in a few weeks.

With three candidates entering the race, more could be on the way to create an even more crowded Democratic field. That’s different from last year when district Democrats settled on one candidate in John Plumb to challenge Reed. Norman P. Green, Chautauqua County Democratic Committee chairman, said nobody else in the district decided to make a run to make it a contested primary.

“There’s around seven people that are out there that are coming to meetings and saying they’re going to be candidates,” Green said. “From all corners of the district, we have people. These people are coming forward all by themselves.”

Gallant has served as a teacher at the Corning-Painted Post School District for the past 17 years. He moved to the area 20 years ago and ran a small whitewater rafting tours business.

Gallant represents 150 local unions from Waverly to Westfield on the board of directors for New York State United Teachers. He said he’s running for Congress because the district has been left behind by Washington.

“Our congressman is voting in lock step with Donald Trump and his party,” Gallant said. “He says one thing at home, but votes another way once he’s in Washington. It’s time for a representative who will deliver more than lip service.”

Golden stated on his campaign webpage that he believes representatives should share the passion and pride of the district and represent the peoples’ interests and concerns above corporate interests.

Since his re-election to Congress, Reed has stayed with President Donald Trump on key issues. He voted in favor of a new health care plan that the Congressional Budget Office deemed would throw millions off health insurance. Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate have railed against the proposal. Republican supporters of the bill including Reed said it gives individuals the flexibility to make their own health decisions.

Reed has made a number of television appearances to discuss his support for the health care plan. He also conveyed the work and influence of the Problem Solvers Caucus, of which he is a co-chair, to enact a budget without ideological riders. He’s also touched on issues like tax reform.

The congressman has also journeyed throughout the district to hold a number of town halls.

“The campaign looks forward to engaging in a fair and spirited debate with our challengers about the issues facing our country,” said Nicholas Weinstein, Tom Reed for Congress campaign manager. “Our priority remains on continuing our record of caring, conservative leadership, bridging the partisan divide as the co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus and continuing our commitment to accessibility, adding to our over 200 town hall meetings.”

The 23rd Congressional District is comprised of 11 counties and encompasses Western New York, Southern Tier communities and the Finger Lakes area.

For candidates looking to make a run, Green said Chautauqua County is a key piece to win the November 2018 election. Reed has won the county in the past three election against Plumb, Martha Robertson and Nate Shinagawa.

“It’s the fact that 20 percent of the congressional district’s voters are in Chautauqua County,” Green said. “Whether it’s Tom Reed or a Democrat, the election is won and lost in our county.”

A Democratic primary will take place in June 2018. County Democratic committees would need to endorse a candidate if they desired to before that time. Green said he’s looking to move up the Chautauqua County Democratic Committee’s endorsement to this fall.