Moderate Brindisi Downplays Any Divide With Progressives

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ITHACA, NY (WSKG) – Tompkins County Democrats rallied at a recent meet-the-candidates barbecue, an event that featured a keynote speaker that doesn’t represent Tompkins. Rather, he represents a neighboring district which includes Broome, Cortland and Tioga Counties.

Tompkins Democrats cheering Congressman Brindisi. (Vaughn Golden/WSKG)

22nd District Congressman Anthony Brindisi addressed the crowd on the shore of Cayuga Lake, many of whom volunteered and contributed towards his 2018 campaign.

“Many of you came over and door-knocked and helped financially,” Brindisi told them. “And it really means so much to us to be back here and to say thank you.”

Brindisi narrowly unseated one-term Congresswoman Claudia Tenney last year. However, Ithaca has long been represented by Congressman Tom Reed, who beat Democratic challenger Tracy Mitrano by a wider margin. She’s running again in 2020, but wasn’t at the barbeque.

Jim Gustafson coordinated volunteers in Tompkins County for Mitrano and said there are no hard feelings with Brindisi’s camp.

“If there were other people understandably choosing to volunteer in that race because they saw it as more winnable and contribute money into that race,” Gustafson said. “That’s what makes it a free country and a free party.”

Gustafson now chairs the Tompkins Democratic Committee which includes many progressive-leaning voices.

Brindisi is more moderate.

He opposes impeaching President Trump and a ban on assault rifles. Meanwhile, he supports more border security.

But if there was any conflict between moderate and progressive Democrats, it didn’t show. Brindisi said the divisions, like those pointed out between his fellow freshmen Democrats in Congress are overblown by national media.

“You know the moderates versus the progressives. Who’s got the speaker’s ear? This and that,” Brindisi said. “But to be honest with you, a lot of that really is played up a lot more than it seems because we all get along pretty well.”

Brindisi wants to focus on issues with more consensus solutions like prescription drug prices and access to transportation. But, he doesn’t have too much time until he’s back on the campaign trail.

So far three Republicans have declared they’ll try to unseat him in 2020.