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Oneida County GOP endorses Steve Wells to replace Hanna

Payne Horning
Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, a candidate in the GOP primary for New York's 22nd congressional district, thanks supporter Peter Maxson after the Oneida County Republican Committee voted to endorse her opponent Steve Wells.

The Oneida County Republican Committee is endorsing Cazeonvia businessman Steve Wells in his bid to replace retiring Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld).

Support from the county was highly coveted because it has the largest population of the eight counties in the 22nd district, and it's the home county of candidate Claudia Tenney. She represents New Hartford and Paris in the New York State Assembly. Tenney's opponents have secured endorsements from their home counties, Wells from Madison County and Binghamton's George Philips from Broome County. But after multiple ballots, Wells prevailed with about 52 percent of the vote. Oneida County GOP Committee member Peter Maxson, who supported Tenney in the vote, said her loss took him by surprise.

"I don’t really know. I thought everybody was for Tenney, somebody coming from Oneida County, not another town," Maxson said. "I was wondering what happened."

Yet Tenney, who called the endorsement a mockery, said it wasn't so unexpected.

"A lot of people got a lot of political pressure, have political jobs were pressured to vote in a certain way," Tenney said. "The Republican Committee is a very small group of people compared to the rest of the voters in the Republican Party. The rank and file voters have always overwhelmingly voted for me in spite of the committee."

She said Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, who endorsed Wells last week, was involved in that "arm twisting."

Wells declined to speak with WRVO about the endorsement.