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How could presidential race play out for closely-divided CNY?

Payne Horning

Presidential election season is officially underway, and local experts are chiming in about how this may play out for central New York.

Two big-name candidates, Former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden, are throwing their hats into the ring for next year’s presidential race, but Syracuse University political science professor Grant Reeher, said there could still be room for more.

Reeher said although Trump is running, it’s far from a done deal on the GOP side, but the party will have to be strategic if party leaders are interested in exploring other candidates.

“It will be, I think, incumbent on the Republicans if they want to seriously entertain an alternative to the former president that they will need to clear their field relatively early on and narrow this race down to two or three people,” Reeher said.

Reeher said he thinks President Joe Biden will be the Democrats' candidate, but he said supporting the 80-year-old with struggling approval ratings could be a risky strategy for the Democrats.

"All it's going to take is one stumble, one time for him to lose track of where he is in his speech, lose track of what city he's in, whatever we can imagine the problem is, and not only are the Republicans going to pounce on that, but the press is going to pounce on it, too,” he said.

In the 2020 race, many areas in central New York were closely divided, and Reeher said he thinks a more moderate Republican could do well here.

"That candidate may not have the depth of support that you see up here in upstate New York for Donald Trump, but I think the broader appeal is going to play well in a purple area like this," he said.

And while usually, congressional candidates ride on the coattails of candidates in higher office, this time, the opposite might be true. Reeher said new congressman Brandon Williams is still a “wild card,” but Republicans have at least two strong voices in this area.

"You've got (Claudia) Tenney running in a district that kind of better suits her now, and you've got (Elise) Stefanik who has got quite a strong following in her district, even though she is very controversial, and controversial nationally," he said.

In the months to come, Reeher said he’ll be looking closely at the Republican field and how the Republican party handles primary season. As for the Democrats, he’ll be taking a close look at the economy.

"The continued recovery, or lack of recovery from COVID, our prospects of slipping into a recession, I think that that's going to be huge."

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.