By Jim Ellis
March 24, 2021 — A trio of veteran House members announced Monday that they won’t seek re-election in 2022. Reps. Tom Reed (R-NY) and Filemon Vela (D-TX) will retire, while Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) declared his candidacy for the Georgia Secretary of State position.
Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY)
Tom Reed was first elected in 2010 and, at the time of his initial campaign, took a six-term limit pledge. The next election brings him to the end of his originally promised congressional service calendar. Earlier in the year, however, Rep. Reed had been making overtures about running for governor, especially when incumbent Andrew Cuomo (D) began running into political trouble. Rep. Reed even went so far as to begin hiring statewide campaign staff.
Late last week, however, accusations of him being drunk in public and becoming inappropriate with a female lobbyist several years ago began to surface. Originally, Rep. Reed said such accusations were false, but yesterday accompanied his retirement message with an apology for his past behavior.
The Reed retirement decision is likely good news for neighboring GOP Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford). You will remember that she defeated former Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) by just 109 votes in the November election, a race that consumed more than three months to determine the final outcome. She originally won the 22nd District in 2016, but lost to Brindisi, then a state assemblyman, in 2018.
New York looks to lose at least one seat in reapportionment, and the Reed and Tenney districts rank 27th and 26th in population, respectively, among the 27 New York congressional seats. With Reed departing, the upstate map becomes much easier to draw in that his seat can be collapsed into hers, presenting Tenney with a larger but very likely more Republican district from which she could seek re-election.
Under this scenario, should it occur as described, her most serious competition would very likely come in the Republican primary instead of the general election. Securing local party support in her new counties would become Tenney’s first step in securing the GOP nomination under such a redistricting projection.
Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX)
Rep. Vela’s retirement announcement after what will be five complete terms in the House comes as a surprise. He did, however, experience his tightest election of his five victories in November, but still won with a 55-42 percent majority. President Biden, however, only carried the 34th District, anchored in Brownsville on the Texas-Mexico border, with a 52-48 percent margin, down from 59-38 percent victory spread Hillary Clinton recorded in 2016.