Claudia Tenney Hopes to Ride David Brat Wave to Victory over Richard Hanna

Randolph-Macon economics professor David Brat attributed his stunning victory over Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia in part to the negative ads that Cantor ran on television, which he said boosted his name recognition.

Now, in New York, a similarly outgunned primary challenger says the same thing may be happening there.

New York Republican Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney says she is grateful that political attack ads by her Congressional primary opponent Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) greatly boosted her name ID around the Upstate New York district. Through TV ads and liberal Super PACs, Hanna, who currently has a 52 lifetime ACU rating, is attacking Tenney as a “tax and spend liberal” and as someone who is aligned with the liberal Democratic New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon (Shelly) Silver.

“The only place I’m not well known is Courtland, Broome, and Tioga. That’s where I’m trying to build name ID is down there, but Richard actually built my name ID. Now I have to make it positive and get the vote out,” she told Breitbart News on Saturday.

Tenney, who graduated Colgate University with Monica Crowley, received the big endorsements recently from other Fox News Channel luminaires Sean Hannity and Michelle Malkin, Erick Erickson, and Laura Ingraham.

Tenney explained, “I have to counter [the attack ads]. So now that I’ve got Hannity and Laura Ingraham and Michelle Malkin and some of the others have came out like’s Erick Erickson—a whole bunch of them—so now [the voters are thinking], ‘What’s going on? Who's telling the truth here?’”

“I have a TV ad that says I never raised taxes. I’m the number one conservative in New York. I’ve got the endorsement of the Conservative Party and he’s got liberal PACs. So I just had to counter it, because people kept calling me saying, ‘You’ve got to do something.’”

Tenney says Hanna’s attacks on her as a liberal lawmaker are absurd. Hanna claims that Tenney voted to raise New York sales and property taxes, for example, but according to Tenney she is unable to raise sales and property taxes in the Assembly.

“They’ve been running an ad that says I’m a tax and spend liberal and that I’m in the tank for Shelly Silver—that I raised sales tax and property taxes. We don’t do sales and property taxes by the state. Those are local governments. [The ads] are just completely fraudulent. [The attack ads say] I’m with Shelly Silver and that I’m a liar. It just goes on and on like they did with David Brat.”

Tenney says Hanna’s ads take advantage of the sparse knowledge many have about how bills are moved from local governments around the Empire state to the state capitol in Albany.

“State government in New York is a lot different than DC. We ratify local bills. If a village wants to use lever voting machines in a local election, for example, we have to approve that. It’s a local bill,” she said. Noting the Democratic majority (108 to 42) in the state’s lower chamber, she remarked, “So every bill that comes out of the [assembly], obviously, Shelly votes yes on. It wouldn’t come out if it weren’t a yes vote, and out of a thousand bills, we do about 850 or 900 [that] are local bills and are non-substantive bills.”

Additionally, Tenney pointed out that she was the first Republican to call for Silver's resignation as Speaker, when Democratic Assemblyman Vito Lopez was forced out of office after he was accused of groping and intimidating young female staffers in a 2012 sexual harassment scandal. The New York State GOP, local media, as well as a New York Democratic lawmaker called upon Silver to resign when evidence surfaced the NY Democratic Assembly Speaker appeared to cover up the scandal long before it surfaced. Silver, however, resisted and stayed in his position.

Similar to Virginia Republican candidate for Congress David Brat’s campaign, Tenney’s camp is helped by enthusiastic local Tea Party groups, Tenney says. She attended a number of Tea Party events in 2010 when Hanna ran for Congress a second time and won.

“At that time when I was at Tea Party rallies, 90 percent of them were all Marines or veterans who care about our Constitution—less government, less taxes. There weren’t all these peripheral issues. That’s what they were really interested in, so I don’t know why the national Republicans... just completely maligned and denigrated their base.”

She went further, “Most of the core Tea Party people are not these wacky people. They’re just regular veterans.”

“So [the local Tea Party groups] have been really gangbusters helping me. They’re doing some fun stuff—like tomorrow we’re doing a RINO hunt. They’re having a blast. They love getting people out. They’re really excited. They’ve been great. They’ve been really nice. They helped me get [petition ballot] signatures and making phone calls. They’re going door to door. They’re very motivated, and they haven’t been motivated in a while, because Richard just didn’t do anything for them.”

Although Tenney entered the GOP primary much later than most candidates, an issue that some in the NY GOP think may have hurt elevating her name ID, Tenney nevertheless continues forward with meet and greets as well as telephone town halls.

“I did a town hall the day before. I’m just meeting people everywhere, and a lot of the time the people at the meet and greets are Republican Committee people who are disgusted with Richard, because they didn’t know what his record was.”

Tenney says GOP county chairmen are supporting Hanna, however, and are “doubling down.” She said, “They are trying to intimidate everyone into going out and supporting him. One guy told me, ‘If Obama was a registered Republican, [the NY County Chairmen] would be telling everyone to vote for Obama.’”

Tenney appears unconcerned about a McLaughlin and Associates poll released in March showing Hanna trouncing her with over 70 percent of likely GOP voters supporting him.

“If you look at that poll, they didn’t release the rest of it. I got Mark Weiner to look it up. In that poll, 45 percent of the people were unaware of me, and that was a large reason for the low numbers," said Tenney. “Last time," she said, referring to the 2012 GOP primary, "there was less than 15,000 votes out of 160,000 Republicans. There’s so much advertising that’s going into it that wasn’t going into it before.”

Although Tenney continues to challenge Hanna to a debate, the GOP Congressman refuses to not only face her but be near her at public events, Tenney said, noting he has continued an aggressive practice of maintaining several arms lengths from the Tea Party challenger.


Breitbart Video Picks



Fox News National



Send A Tip

From Our Partners