© 2024 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
0000017a-3c50-d913-abfe-bd54a8ce0000Stay up-to-date with the latest 2020 election news from NPR and WRVO. [Note] Please refresh this page as it will be automatically updated daily throughout the election year.

Brindisi looks back at first year in office

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News (file photo)

Since Democrats took control of the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections, eyes have been on freshmen members of the party like Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica), who promised pragmatic bipartisanship on the campaign trail, and pushed through a divisive year challenging that.

Brindisi, who narrowly defeated one-term incumbent Republican Claudia Tenney by 1.8% in 2018, sought to avoid becoming entangled in Washington’s political fray by focusing on what he called “kitchen table issues.” One of the first votes he took as a member of congress was to fulfill a campaign promise that he would vote against Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker.

In time, he made a name as someone willing to work with Republicans and the President Donald Trump’s administration.

"I think by and large, he set the tone for unity and bipartisanship,” Brindisi said after Trump’s State of the Union address on the heels of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. “Now words are important, but actions speak louder than words and I hope that he follows through on his commitment for bipartisanship. I know I'm going to follow through on my commitment."

But being bipartisan in today’s Washington is a tough needle to thread, especially this year. Brindisi continued pushing to lower prescription drug prices, fix loopholes at Veteran’s Administration hospitals, and push the International Joint Commission to alleviate flood risks on Lake Ontario.

By focusing his energy on these areas, Brindisi was mostly able to avoided partisan furor over the Mueller probe, but later found it unavoidable as the House moved towards, and eventually voted in favor the impeachment of President Trump.

Trump won Brindisi’s district by nearly 20 points, so the Democrat had to walk a fine line on impeachment. He said he’d analyze the evidence and voted to authorize the inquiry when it came up.

“What I've said is I consider myself very much like a member of a grand jury right now weighing all the evidence that's coming before us," Brindisi said.

He ultimately he voted to impeach.

“What's pained me the most about all of this is that I've really worked well with this administration over the last year on a number of issues,” Brindisi said, again highlighting some legislative successes. In the same week, the House passed the USMCA and a spending bill both, considered wins for agriculture and manufacturing sectors in the district.

For Brindisi conflict like this, being pulled by both sides, isn’t abnormal.

"Being a moderate,” he says. “I think what surprises me is you start to take incoming from your left and your right. But I always say, if you're getting hit from both sides you're probably somewhere in the middle, which is where I believe the majority of the country is."

Overall, he hasn’t changed much in his viewpoint going into 2020, except now he has a legislative record and touting it is what he expects to lead him to a second term.