John Plumb made a campaign stop in Ithaca on Wednesday evening to drum up support from the city’s politically active base of liberal progressives in his effort to unseat Republican Tom Reed.
Reed, first elected in 2010, successfully faced Ithaca-area challengers Nate Shinagawa and Martha Roberton in the last two congressional elections. This time around it seems the Democratic Party has given up on running “extreme Ithaca liberals” as Reed called them, and opted to give someone with more of a blue-dog Democrat appeal a try.
Plumb, a former Department of Defense official and a staff member on the National Security Council, recently moved back to upstate New York after spending several years in Washington, D.C. His website lists some of his policy stances, but they are of scant detail. Notably, on the “women’s issues” page, he avoids the “war on women” rhetoric that famously sunk Martha Robertson.
Tom Reed has not waited to unleash steady criticism of his challenger. One of the earliest attacks was the allegation that Plumb is a carpetbagger and linked to the Democratic Party machine from President Obama to Nancy Pelosi:
This video still uses the phrase “extreme Ithaca liberals.” It was a winning strategy in 2014, so the Reed campaign must believe it will tarnish Plumb’s blue-dog appeal, which could be powerful in the rest of the NY23 district outside Ithaca.
In a Facebook post made after the New York primary elections were called Tuesday night, Reed criticized Plumb for his endorsement of Hillary Clinton despite the fact that Democrats went for Bernie Sanders in this district.
The Facebook post reads:
John Plumb is so out of touch with the district that he endorsed Hillary Clinton who didn’t win a single county in our district last night. He is clearly beholden to Washington insiders. But, after all, he is a Washington insider who just like Clinton, worked in Obama’s White House on failed foreign policy. This presidential election is so important which is why we need candidates that listen to the American people. We do not need Obama insiders.
Reed received some media scrutiny in mid-March after he endorsed Republican front-runner Donald Trump after having originally endorsed Jeb Bush last summer. Based on the Facebook post above, it seems Reed is positioning himself as a political outsider opposed to the “insider” Plumb, despite the fact that Reed is the 6-year incumbent.