Tenney prepares to assume rival Hanna's seat
The first female representative from the 22nd Congressional District is preparing to assume office. Republican Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) was elected last month to serve the eight counties in the district that stretches from the eastern half of Oswego County to the Mohawk Valley to the Southern Tier.
And while the seat may be staying in Republican hands, its new representative is an entirely different kind of conservative.
When Tenney is sworn in on Jan. 3, her fortunes will be completely reversed. Tenney will move the minority in a blue state with a divided government to a completely Republican-controlled Washington, D.C. Atop the Republican Party's list of goals for next year is repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. As an incoming member of Congress, Tenney says she can feel the burden of the healthcare regulation.
"All members of Congress have to go on Obamacare and I’m now going to have to pay three times more than it costs me now, whether it’s through New York state or private insurance, just to have healthcare - the basic healthcare -- through Obamacare," Tenney said. "So that tells you right there that it’s a big problem."
Repealing Obamacare was something Tenney's predecessor, Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld) frequently voted against. His tenure was often marked by a more moderate stance on issues whereas Tenney built her political career on a far-right conservative platform. And that divide was on full display in 2014 when they battled for his seat in the Republican primary. But now Tenney, who once campaigned for Hanna, is replacing him and the two still seem to have a contentious relationship.
"I met him at the Veterans Day event on the 11th and we talked about the transition and I haven’t heard from him since," Tenney said. "He’s since closed his offices down and stopped helping his constituents."
A spokesperson for Hanna says the federal government mandated those offices be closed, but they have tried to work with Tenney to continue their constituency services. In a written statement, Hanna said:
"Our correspondence will show that we invited Ms. Tenney on numerous occasions to tour both district offices and we never heard back. We were informed by both building landlords that the spaces needed to be rented and they moved forward with other opportunities. Now, we are mandated to follow government guidelines on how the offices had to be closed and equipment moved to storage facilities. Ms. Tenney has had every opportunity to keep those offices but we can only assume she chose not to do so. We stand ready and willing to help her with this transition to continue constituent services as quickly as possible."
Tenney says she is working with some of Hanna's staff on the transition and plans to keep several of them in the office for her term. She will be moving into Rep. Elise Stefanik's (R-Willsboro) former office now that the North Country congresswoman is moving to better space.