Former Corning, New York Mayor Tom Reed started running against the now-disgraced Eric Massa last July. The District has had no representative since Massa tickled his way out of office and resigned on March 8. Governor Paterson has yet to call a special election.
Even without the Massa “hiccups,” the 29th District was likely to favor a Republican candidate this fall. Historically it has leaned a little to the right, and John McCain carried in 2008. “We are truly a conservative district, there’s no doubt about that,” Reed told TAS. Massa won by 1.8 percentage points in 2008. In the Obama midterm elections, it was likely that such a district would fall to the GOP even without allegations that the incumbent Democrat had sexually harassed a male staffer.
Reed also boasts the endorsement of local Conservative Party chairs, and describes himself as socially and fiscally conservative. Reed criticized Massa for supporting the Obama budget and stimulus package. Reed is running with the goal of repealing the healthcare bill, and questions the constitutional authority of the individual mandate. Massa voted against the healthcare bill in November, but because he is a single-payer advocate. Reed has also pledged not to raise taxes while in office, and supports continuing the Afghanistan war.
It has been reported that 29-year-old army veteran Matthew Zeller will be representing the Democratic ticket. Local news outlets report Zeller is new to politics and currently works in Virginia, but is a Rochester native. Reed confirmed with TAS that he would be running in November if there is no special election held.
Paterson has cited costs and the possible difficulties in counting votes from soldiers overseas as reasons for not holding the election. Critics have speculated that the governor is stalling because of the Democrats’ poor chances to win.