Utica, NY (WUTR-TV), The 22nd Congressional Race was hotly contested with the final outcome not known until two months after Election Day. Now that some time has passed, we sat down with the former Congressman, Anthony Brindisi to hear his thoughts about his time as congressman , the election and what’s to come in the future. In this three part series, Eyewitness News uncovers it all.
Anthony Brindisi first ran for Congress in 2018 and he beat incumbent Claudia Tenney. He says his choice to run stemmed from wanting to be in a career where he could help people.
This past election for the 22nd congressional seat was like no other. From campaigning during a pandemic, to voter miscalculations and not having a winner for almost two months, Brindisi says COVID and campaigning shifted the whole dynamic.
“Learning as you go, how to campaign in the age of pandemic. All the traditional ways of campaigning were completely thrown out the door. Because you don’t do the big public events, that’ is a big part of campaigning. You don’t do the traditional door knocking because that’s also a big part of campaigning. Ultimately, every move you make, you have to think of what’s in the best interest of our volunteers and the public at large because you don’t want to get people sick. So we had to focus a lot more on things like phone banking and online organizing as opposed to the big in person type of events that we had done in the past.”
“If you were able to do that in person campaigning and having those big rallies, do you think it could have helped your campaign at all? Or is it just too hard to say because of the times we’re in?”—Shalon Stevens
“It’s hard to say. Obviously we made a choice not to do the big in person events, my opponent did do in person events. Maybe that causes more excitement on that side opposed to ours, I don’t know, it’s hard to say. But certainly what’s more natural to me is doing those kind of in person events. That’s what generates the excitement and hopefully gets people to the polls.”
Because of COVID-19, people were granted permission to request absentee ballots and many of his supporters utilized that option in this recent election.
“On the night of the election, we were down by 28,000 votes and at that point, I thought, there’s no way we’re coming back from this. We did know that there were something like 50,000 absentee ballots out there and we felt that a lot of our supporters did vote absentee. So, we were patient. We went through the canvassing process. Ultimately we were able to close that gap, we were up, we were down.”
Brindisi says the process was frustrating, “Well I could tell that over the three months from Election Day until when the race was finally decided, I probably got a few more gray hairs on my head. Just going through the whole process and being so frustrated by the whole thing. So many irregularities and inconsistencies throughout the counting process.”
Brindisi is disappointed Oswego County Court Judge, Scott Delconte who presided over the case, did not order a recount.
“Had this election taken place in 2021, being within point five percent would have triggered an automatic recount. But because this election happened last year before the new law went into affect, even though we were in point four percent.”
Brindisi did not choose to appeal the judge’s ruling.
“As I started to sit down and think about it further though and knowing how long it would have taken to go through that process, I think the voters have really had enough. I wanted to concede and not continue the fight anymore, to wrap things up and have some representation down in Washington.”
However, the multiple errors the board of elections made , including failing to register over 2400 voters through the DMV and rejecting over 1000 valid ballots, Brindisi says it is unacceptable.
“To me, it’s just inexcusable. I’m glad that the Board of Elections is moving past its prior leadership and going to try and rectify the problems that existed there. I hope that there’s an outside investigation. People have to feel confident and comfortable that their vote is actually counted and when they go to register they want to make sure that when they show up at the polls on election day, their name is in the book and they can vote.”