After a slow start campaigning in the Empire State, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump is kicking his home state politicking into high gear with a series of events in the state’s northernmost 21st Congressional District just days before next Tuesday’s New York primary.
On Friday Trump appeared before an enthusiastic crowd of 3,000 in the small (population 19,989) city of Plattsburgh, located on the shores of Lake Champlain and just 20 miles south of the Canadian border, where he delivered a vintage Trump message, as the Plattsburgh Press-Republican reported:
Blasting off his speech with his familiar “We’re going to make America great again,” slogan, presidential candidate Donald Trump thrilled about 3,000 people at a rally Friday at Crete Memorial Civic Center.
“We’re going to win. We’re going to win. We are going to win so much you are going to get sick of winning so much,” Trump assured the crowd, to a wild roar. . .
The crowd who showed up to hear him was a mixture of ages and genders, but heavy on younger people. . .
Trump pledged to the crowd that he will bring more jobs to the United States and New York if he is elected president.
“We are going to bring back jobs to New York state, and we are going to do it very, very fast,” he said.
The Plattsburgh area has lost about 3,000 jobs since 2000, Trump said, and he will work to prevent companies from leaving areas like Plattsburgh for better deals overseas.
“There is no down side to them leaving,” Trump said, explaining that no punitive measures exist for companies that take jobs overseas.
“They are not going to leave, with me. If they do, they will pay for it.”
On Saturday Trump held an event 160 miles to the southwest in Watertown, another small city of 27,000 located in the 21st Congressional District.
Trump was not alone among contenders for the GOP nomination in bringing his case to New York’s North Country. The day before, on Friday, Ohio Governor John Kasich held a town hall in Watertown. While Sen. Ted Cruz has not yet ventured into the 21st Congressional District, he did hold a rally on Friday in the suburban Syracuse community of Cicero, before heading to Wyoming to make what ended up being a successful pitch for delegates at that state’s Republican convention.
While polls show Trump with a commanding lead over his rivals–most polls give him between 49 percent and 60 percent of the vote–both Kasich and Cruz are engaged in a game of Congressional District chess designed to keep Trump’s delegate haul in Tuesday’s New York primary well below the 95 delegates up for grabs.
Fourteen of those delegates are allocated based on the statewide vote. The remaining 81 delegates are allocated by vote in each Congressional District. Each of the state’s 27 Congressional Districts will elect three delegates.
It’s winner take all statewide and in every Congressional District if the winner takes more than 50 percent of the vote.
Should the winner drop below 50 percent, delegates are allocated proportionately.
Though it’s not a given that Trump will exceed 50 percent statewide, Cruz and Kasich appear to be conceding a statewide win to him while contesting strategically in Congressional Districts where they think they can hold him below 50 percent.
Both Cruz and Kasich are playing the momentum game, looking to claim that holding Trump below 50 percent statewide is a huge loss for the Manhattan billionaire.
Failing that, should Trump not win a 50 percent majority in as many as a dozen of the state’s 27 districts, both Cruz and Kasich are poised to claim that the resultant likely 83 out of 95 delegate haul for Trump is a sign he’s losing momentum.
The Watertown Daily Times reported favorably on Kasich’s Friday visit:
Even with warm weather begging that the day be spent outside, hundreds still poured into the Bruce M. Wright Memorial Conference Center Friday to see Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the first Republican presidential candidate to campaign in Watertown since Teddy Roosevelt.
Mr. Kasich’s town hall meeting easily filled the roughly 500 seats set out for attendees, with over a hundred more standing in the remaining space. . .
Lowville resident Holly J. Yousey said she attended the event specifically to hear Mr. Kasich’s health care solutions.
“I feel somewhat confident about his comments and his ideas on how to fix (health care),” she said.
Watertown resident John Wrape said he was impressed with Mr. Kasich’s ideas and explanation of government process, noting that he “just comes across as a leader.”
Scott A. Gray, chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators, said Mr. Kasich’s visit, along with those made by other presidential candidates, is great for Northern New York. Based on Friday’s event, he added that Mr. Kasich has a solid handle on small businesses and creating jobs.
“We would certainly welcome him in New York as governor,” Mr. Gray joked.
Mr. Kasich’s stop was the first of a few other presidential campaign visits this weekend, including Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s stop at Watertown International Airport today as well as a visit from former President Bill Clinton, who is campaigning for his wife, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, outside the J.B. Wise building today at 1 p.m.
Watertown station WWNY reported on Trump’s Saturday talk to what they described as “a large crowd”:
Trump’s Watertown speech was a collection of his greatest hits – touching on the economy, “stupid government deals,” national security, “‘rebuild our military,” the failings of Obamacare, “repeal it and replace it 100 percent,” gun rights, “We have to protect our 2nd Amendment.”
The crowd cheered each line.
And Trump threw in some north country references: “Fort Drum! That’s a great place! I love Fort Drum!” he declared, again to cheers.
As he has on the campaign trail lately, Trump cited local economic statistics.
“Watertown lost one third of its manufacturing jobs since 2000. That’s not good,” he said.
The Watertown Daily Times offered little on Trump’s Saturday visit, other than to note some protesters had been removed from the event.
In 2009, the majority of the 21st Congressional District was part of the 23rd Congressional District, the scene of the first battle between a Tea Party insurgent, Douglas Hoffman, and an establishment Republican, Dede Scozzafava, both of whom competed in the special election to replace incumbent Rep. John McHugh, a Republican, who had resigned his seat to become President Obama’s Secretary of the Army.
In that race, the Watertown Daily Times endorsed Scozzafava.
Hoffman was denied the GOP nomination in an establishment-engineered coup for Scozzafava, but running on the Conservative Party line and benefitting from outside help from groups like FreedomWorks hurt Scozzafava in the polls so badly she ultimately withdrew from the race. In a bitter attack upon the Tea Party, Scozzafava endorsed Democratic nominee Bill Owens, who narrowly defeated Hoffman on election day. Owens was elected to represent the newly formed 21st Congressional District in 2012, and he retired in 2014, when he was replaced by Rep. Elise Stefanik, a moderate Republican.