Colgate Hosts 22nd District Congressional Debate


Henry Claudy, Maroon-News Staff

Colgate hosted New York’s 22nd District Congressional Debate in the Hall of Presidents on October 25 in partnership with Spectrum News. The debate was between Republican incumbent Claudia Tenney and Democrat Anthony Brindisi, candidates in the upcoming election, and was broadcast later that day.

The moderators, including Political Science Professor and Department Chair Nina Moore, posed questions to the candidates on a wide variety of topics. Talking points ranged from the recent pipe bomb incidents, illegal immigration, legislative remedies to the recent struggles of local dairy farmers, healthcare in a post-Affordable Care Act political climate and Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Moderators posed direct questions to candidates, who had one minute to respond. The opposing candidates were then given 30 seconds to offer a rebuttal, at the discretion of the moderators. The debate also included a “lightning round” of questions meant to be answered in two words or less, and a segment where the candidates could ask each other one question.

Like in many elections this midterm season, the candidates of the 22nd Congressional District are dividing its constituents into pro-and anti-Trump camps. Tenney sold herself as a strong supporter of the President’s agenda, and mentioned his leadership and the Democrats’ reactions to it throughout the debate. Brindisi, however, did not make adamant claims against the current president, but presented himself as a moderate alternative to Tenney.

Sophomore Hans Lunsgaard shared his experience at the debate.

“[It was] a very interesting experience. It is clear that the political ten- sions experienced in the presidential elections have leaked into the smaller races,” Lunsgaard said. “I thought Tenney came off as insecure while Brindisi seem more calm and composed. The moderators appeared neutral and succeeded at keeping the candidates in line, a difficult task.”

Congresswoman Tenney also addressed her recent comments describing Colgate as a “left-wing crazy school” on October 22 in Syracuse at a campaign event.

“There’s a movement on campus because I support the President of the United States, who is doing incredible things for our communities and our dairy farmers, that somehow I should have my diploma taken away. The same type of left wing, unhinged people are refusing to let us even celebrate and honor the people who were killed in 9/11,” Tenney said.

“I’m a member of the Center for Freedom and Western Civilization; it’s a conservative group on campus here. We’ve been fighting the attacks on our first amendment rights to stand up as Republicans and conservatives. Colgate University is not supportive of those efforts and only recently have they come around,” Tenney said.

Attendance to the event was closed to the general public. The Office of Communications sent an email to the Colgate community stating that because of “the intimate stage setup, attendance from both campaigns, and strict security requirements,” only students and faculty from the political science department, members of the College Republicans and College Democrat student groups and The Maroon-News received invitations to the event.

Senior George Karamanoukian detailed his thoughts on the limited invitation list.

“I don’t necessarily think that it’s a bad thing that the debate wasn’t open to the public. Granted, I don’t agree with Claudia Tenney’s politics, but she should be afforded a platform for her views to be heard,” Karamanoukian said. “I can’t guarantee that this would’ve happened, but I could imagine a situation where students would have protested her speaking and not allowed her to get a word in edgewise…I’m guessing that’s why students were hand selected instead of allowing a free for all.”

First elected to the House in 2016, Tenney acts as the incumbent in this congressional race. In addition to her experience in the House, Tenney served for six years on the New York State Assembly and owns a small business founded in Hamilton. Democrat Anthony Brindisi has sat as a member of the State Assembly since 2011 and previously worked on the Utica School board.

The full debate can be viewed on Spectrum News’ website with a subscription.

Election day is November 6, and Hamilton-registered voters can vote at the Hamilton Public Library.

Contact Henry Claudy at [email protected]