Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi this week said it was fair to say he agonized over the decision to impeach President Donald Trump.
The former state lawmaker called it the toughest vote he’s ever taken in office.
And now he’s among the Democrats in the House of Representatives from districts the president carried in his 2016 election who will vote in favor of impeaching him on charges that he obstructed Congress and abused his power in seeking Ukraine’s help in investigating political rivals in the United States.
“Ultimately I have to make a decision based on what I think is best for the country and what’s best for the rule of law and the constitution,” Brindisi told Spectrum News on Tuesday. “That’s why I decided to support the articles of impeachment.”
Brindisi’s vote and the impeachment drive writ large is coloring a race for a red-hued battleground district that covers parts of the Mohawk Valley and the Southern Tier region of the state. The district, at first blush, is what one would consider “Trump country” to be: Its urban communities like Utica and Binghamton have struggled. It is largely rural and where the rust belt of upstate New York truly begins.
The city of Utica has also been known to be a haven for refugees, helping to stem what had been a tide of population loss in the small city.
A muscular trade policy and support for agriculture are themes that resonant in the district, but so do the contributions of people who have fled violence abroad to make their homes here.
Trump traveled there last year for a fundraiser for Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney, who Brindisi would unseat later that November.
Tenney is mounting a comeback bid for the district in the Republican primary.
“Anthony Brindisi promised voters in NY-22 he would work with our president, he promised to work with Republicans, he promised not to be a partisan hack,” Tenney said in a statement. “Instead, he has gone to Washington and fallen right in line with the extreme, do-nothing Democrats.”
But Tenney faces political cross-currents as well: Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell, one of her rivals for the GOP nomination this June, has argued Tenney lost what should have been a layup for a Republican in a Trump-supporting district. The problem isn’t Trump, Cornwell’s campaign has said, the problem was Tenney.
“Claudia Tenney sent Brindisi to D.C. which got us to impeachment,” Cornwell’s campaign said. “Tenney’s loss is unforgivable and the abuse of power by Congress is unprecedented.”
The 22nd congressional district has been home to a brand of moderate Republicanism in the past: Republican former Rep. Richard Hanna who retired in 2016 endorsed Brindisi last year.
Brindisi on Tuesday in The Post-Standard further outlined his case for voting yes, quoting James Madison in the process.
The impeachment of Trump is likely and a Senate trial will conclude in January.
Roughly 11 months from the November elections, it’s almost impossible to determine which issues will resonate for voters in what will likely be another white-hot election year.