VESTAL, NY (WSKG) — The 2020 race is on in New York’s 22nd congressional district.
George Phillips first announced his campaign last month and now he’s touring cities across the district that spans parts of Central New York and the Southern Tier.
The Republican stopped in Binghamton on Wednesday after starting the tour in Utica on Tuesday. He also plans to make trips to Cortland, Norwich, Pulaski, Canastota, Little Falls and Apalachin throughout April and May.
Phillips is hoping to go up against freshman Democrat Anthony Brindisi in 2020. Brindisi beat Republican Claudia Tenney last fall to flip the seat from red to blue.
That race was littered with attack ads as money flowed into the race from across the country. In Binghamton on Wednesday, Phillips said he plans to run a positive campaign, but won’t limit himself to that.
“If I’m criticized unfairly I will respond,” he said. “So, we will respond in this rancorous time to political critiques here, certainly. We want to keep it high-minded, we want to keep it to issues, but I think every candidate really needs to respond in this environment.”
Phillips has served as dean of students at Seton Catholic High School in Binghamton. He’s also worked with the conservative group Reclaim New York.
He said many fiscal policies at the state and federal level are having a negative effect on the region.
“I’m so sad as we hear stories of students I’ve taught over the course of the last ten years how many are doing great things, but how many are doing things out of this area,” he said.
He’s run for congress twice before and lost both times. First, in 2010 to Democrat Maurice Hinchey, and then again in 2016, in the Republican primary against Tenney.
Phillips said he’s not worried about a primary challenge this year.
“If we have a primary, it’s obviously a huge opportunity,” he said. “That would be in June of 2020 and that’s an opportunity to connect with the voters early and get our message out early.”