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Tenney declares bid for Southern Tier congressional seat following redistricting

Bret Jaspers
WSKG News (file photo)

Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford), declared her intentions to run for the Southern Tier congressional seat after her existing district was largely split up in proposed redistricting maps released Sunday.

Tenney currently resides in Oneida County, which was drawn into a Democrat-leaning district encompassing much of the current 19th Congressional District represented by Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-Rhinebeck). Legally, a candidate only needs to be a resident of the state, meaning Tenney can run in the proposed 23rd district, which stretches from Lake Erie to parts of Cortland and Chenango counties.

“Throughout my career I have stood up for Upstate New York and the Southern Tier, fighting for our shared conservative values in Albany and Washington,” Tenney wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “My family business has been owned and operated in Chenango County since 1946, creating jobs for hundreds of people in our community over the years and contributing to the Southern Tier economy.”

The Southern Tier district is currently represented by Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) who announced he would not run for reelection last year following revelations he inappropriately touched a female lobbyist.

Several candidates declared their intentions to run for the seat prior to the state Legislature’s proposed maps being released. Steuben County Republican Committee Chairman Joe Sempolinski had around $87,000 cash-on-hand as of the end of the third quarter in 2021. Shortly after Tenney announced her intention to run Monday, Sempolinksi said he would back out of the race and support the congresswoman should the proposed districts be finalized.

Sempolinski said he finds the maps to be an unconstitutional gerrymander and places blame on Democrats in Albany.

“If the courts produce an open seat in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes, I will be a candidate for that seat,” Sempolinksi said. “However, if this map, which I again reiterate in my opinion is unconstitutional, but if it stands, if it is found to be the map that is going to be our map for the next 10 years by the courts, I would not challenge Congresswoman Tenney in a primary and I would support her in that case.”

Tenney represented the 22nd District from 2017 to 2018 before being unseated by Anthony Brindisi. Tenney narrowly beat Brindisi in a rematch in 2020.

Tenney also reported having almost $1.2 million cash-on-hand at the end of 2021, according to campaign finance filings.