Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente is supporting Syracuse-area businessman Steven Wells in the Republican primary to replace retiring Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld).
Picente, a Reoublican who at one time considered jumping in the race, said Wells -- like Hanna -- is a successful businessman who is willing to work across the aisle.
"What appealed to me was his understanding of the landscape of the region, of upstate New York, as a businessman," Picente said. "I like to think people want to see someone whose interests are for the people that live here, for families and looking at the big picture and not trying to go to Washington or Albany with a personal agenda, but rather an agenda that fits where I raise my family and where I want to live."
Pragmatism is a major reason Picente said he is endorsing Wells over Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, who he says he finds too partisan.
"I want someone who’s going to work together for the best interests and understand when it’s time to stand up and fight, but also understand when it’s time to reach across and get things done and that’s something I haven’t seen from her," Picente said.
But Tenney, who almost beat Hanna in a 2014 primary, calls herself a principled leader who has a record consists of standing up for core Republican values. That 2014 primary opposition is something Picente said may hurt her among Republican officials and voters in the race. Tenney has been endorsed by Oswego County's Republican committee.
Wells, co-founder of Liverpool's American Food and Vending Corporation, has support from the Madison County's GOP. A third candidate, George Phillips of Binghamton, was endorsed by the Broome County Republican Party. Oneida County Republicans will weigh in on the race later this month. The district includes portions of eight counties.