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Elections
Coverage of the 2016 presidential election from NPR News and related blogs, including candidate profiles, interviews and talking points.On-air specials will also be broadcast as Election Day approaches, including the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.WRVO also provides coverage of regional elections both on-air and online.

Republican control of Congress could mean more clout for upstate NY

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Payne Horning
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WRVO News (file photo)
Claudia Tenney, right, was elected to Congress Tuesday in the 22nd Congressional District

Several races for Congress in upstate New York were expected to be competitive, but Republicans won those comfortably. Some experts say the GOP winners in the region got a boost from Donald Trump’s name at the top of the ticket. And having Republicans control all branches of government could mean more leverage for upstate residents.

Reed Extends a Hand

Out in western New York, the incumbent Republican Tom Reed beat out democrat John Plumb. Reed was one of the first Congressmen to endorse Donald Trump. Trump took much of upstate New York. So did Reed. Except in Tompkins County, where Ithaca is. Like Trump, Reed extended a hand to people who opposed him.

“Obviously, philosophically, many people disagree with us, but at the end of the day, we represent everyone," said Reed on a late Election Night press call.

Once the next session starts, Reed says one of the first items on his agenda is to reform the tax code.

 What Kind of Representative Will They Be?

Further east, in central New York, supporters of New York Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney welcomed her victory in the Congressional district that covers Utica and Binghamton. Two years ago, she ran in the Republican primary for this same seat, but lost to the incumbent, GOP Rep. Richard Hanna.

But for her, the second time’s the charm. Hanna announced he’d retire, so she won the primary and beat out the independent candidate, Martin Babinec, and the Democrat, Kim Myers. It was a brutal campaign. According to Grant Reeher, political science professor at Syracuse University, Tenney will have to decide what kind of representative she intends to be.

“Will she try to become kind of the Michele Bachmann, a strident voice for a particular point of view which is way out on one end of the axis," posited Reeher. "Or is she going to try and pull in her wings a little bit on that and become part of a governing mainstream?”

That’s a question many House Republicans will have to consider.

In the past, Tenney’s described herself as a Donald Trump before Trump came on the scene. She did not gain the endorsement of the GOP establishment. But that didn’t stop her win.

“We’ve stood up for our principles and we’re going to try to move forward and bring everyone together to move to Washington, which I’m sure is going to have many more twists and turns than Albany has had," said Claudia Tenney on Election Night. "I’m hoping it’s going to be a little bit of a different experience being in the majority.”

More Pork for the District

Tenney’s used to being in the minority in the state Assembly, but hopes when she’s in the majority, she’ll bring more clout to the region.

“If you’re in the majority party, it means a great deal of what we used to call ‘pork’ coming back to the district," said Jim Twombly, professor of political science at Elmira College. "They can’t change state and local tax policy, but they can perhaps can create a federal tax structure that is beneficial to a business relocating to a rural community or an economically stressed community.”

That’s a big concern for Binghamton resident Theshema Wooden. She feels high taxes are preventing new businesses from moving in.

“We need to focus on bringing some jobs back here, so the people can make a decent earning wage and be able to afford housing here," said Wooden.

Out in the Hudson Valley, Republican John Faso won against Fordham University law professor Zephyr Teachout. Days before the final count, polls showed Faso six points ahead of Teachout.

Up in the Syracuse area, GOP Congressman John Katko held on to his seat against his challenger Democrat Colleen Deacon.