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Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Congressional Primaries in Two Parts; Frost, 25, Wins in FL:
Primary today in GLOW region ends;
Results not yet known, counting continues throughout New York State

Compiled by Staff of Batavia Daily News; Edited by SLDN

It’s primary day in New York — again. In the four-county GLOW region, Republican voters had options on the ballot in the primary race for Congress.

Today’s primaries were originally planned to be held in June with the primary races for governor, Assembly and local seats, but the last-minute redistricting of New York’s congressional and state Senate lines pushed them to August.

Voters registered to a party hosting a primary in their congressional district had been able to vote early at their county board of elections site or an alternate open site since Aug. 13. Today, poll sites were open for full polling hours from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Early voting numbers showed a lighter turnout than the early voting from June. In Livingston County, 51 people cast ballots through eight days of voting with two days seeing no votes. Early voting began Aug. 13 and ran for nine days, ending Aug. 21.

In Genesee County, there had been 63 early votes as of Thursday.

For the 24th Congressional District, which includes all of Genesee, Livingston and Wyoming counties, and the southern portion of Orleans County – and covers an expansive area that ranges from Niagara County through the Finger Lakes and north to western Jefferson County, Republican voters had the chance to select their preferred candidate. Incumbent Rep. Claudia L. Tenney, R-Utica, who currently serves in the 22nd Congressional District, faced a challenge from Geneva-based businessman and former lawyer, Mario J. Fratto. George Phillips, a Binghamton resident who followed Rep. Tenney into this primary race but never officially campaigned, was also on the Republican ballot for NY-24.

The winner of that race will advance onto the general election against Democrat Steven W. Holden Sr., an Army veteran and business owner from Camillus. 

The new district replaces the 27th Congressional District. Current Congressman Chris Jacobs, R-Orchard Park, is seeking election in the 23rd District.

Tenney, 61, graduated from Colgate University in 1983 and went on for her law degree, graduating in 1987. She served in the state Assembly in 2011 until she ascended as the 22nd District representative to the House of Representatives in 2016. She lost her seat in 2018 and was reelected in 2020 by 109 votes after a lengthy ballot recanvassing.

Fratto, 37, is a graduate of Syracuse University. He went on to receive a law degree from the University of Southern California with a concentration in business law while also receiving honors in constitutional law. He gave up his law practice in 2019 to join his brothers in running Geneva Granite, a granite curbing family business originated by his grandfather. He worked a more grassroots campaign as a newcomer challenging an establishment candidate.

Tenney is running on a longer record. She has been an outspoken messenger promoting conservative positions. Her social media and website are filled with explanations of her vote-by-vote record.

A Trump loyalist who voted with the former president 97% of the time, she generally has taken strong positions against illegal immigration and supports the impeachment of President Joe Biden over issues related to the Mexican border and withdrawal from Afghanistan. She’s also touted her leadership filing a legal brief in support of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association that helped successfully overturn New York’s concealed carry firearm restrictions.

She has also supported independent positions benefiting her district and other upstate communities, including the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which offers a path to legal residency to farm workers not considered to be legal residents. And she pointed out that she voted in favor of restoring slashed pension benefits for salaried Delphi employees in Lockport, when other Republicans wouldn’t.

“I’m not a lackey to anyone,” she said. “I get accused of that, but I’m not.”

She said she supports small business growth, tax cuts, the military and a “common sense” approach to energy independence that embraces green energy efforts to the exclusion of all others. If she wins, she said she expects to gain a seat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

Fratto, meanwhile, said he wants to restore “traditional American values and culture by defending it from the ‘woke’ left.” Promoting himself as the most right-leaning candidate, he said he would like to cut inflation by shrinking government and eliminating the Department of Education. He also talks about securing the southern border, ending dependence on foreign manufacturers and supporting an “America first” policy that includes opposing more money to support the war in Ukraine.

He promotes his deep family and business ties within the district.

Despite the fact that Fratto will be outspent by Tenney, he said the expected low voter turnout means the outcome of the race will depend on energizing committed Republican voters in the primary.

Fratto has been trying to improve his odds by exploiting certain votes taken by Tenney that he said makes her a RINO — Republican In Name Only. He has referred to individual votes that he says suggest she supports publicly funded sex change operations for members of the military, amnesty for immigrants living here illegally and support for Planned Parenthood.

Tenney said her long voting record and endorsement history debunks this and called his assertions “just slanderous.”

Fratto has also tried to pin Tenney as a carpetbagger who has no ties to the district and is abandoning her 22nd District constituents to find a safer Republican seat elsewhere. He also criticized her for refusing to debate him, even though Tenney has talked about transparency as a hallmark of her tenure.

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