ITHACA, N.Y. —The Tompkins County Democratic Committee voted Tuesday to endorse Democratic Congressional Tracy Mitrano in her second bid against Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY).

Mitrano received 102 of 116 votes, making Tompkins the sixth of eleven county Democratic committees in the 23rd congressional district to lend their endorsement.

“Having had the time to be with these people and meet with these people, it’s not just the Democratic committees, it’s the people that we’ve had a chance to meet with and it’s going to be the people that are going to want a change in this district,” Mitrano told the committee in her stump speech. “We need that name recognition. We need the consistency. If we change our horse in this race, it’s over with.”

Tompkins County is the largest Democratic stronghold in the district, and the only county Mitrano carried in the 2018 general election. She says that the base of donors and volunteers in Tompkins is crucial to supporting her efforts to flip Republican-leaning areas to the west. When asked, Mitrano said she raised $425,000 so far this cycle (to be confirmed when reports are released publicly Friday) and has had about 240 active volunteers.

Ithaca-based oral surgeon Scott Noren received seven votes towards the endorsement. An additional seven voters abstained. Noren filed paperwork to run for the nomination in May, but hasn’t received any local endorsements. As of October 2019 (the latest FEC filing), Noren had loaned his campaign $10,500 and received no other donations.

When asked if she’d back Noren should he secure the nomination, Mitrano pledged her support, but Noren didn’t reciprocate.

“I have to feel really strongly about somebody before I would support them, even after a nomination,” Noren said. “That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t fight for the party, and that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t fight for other races, but I can honestly say, I’m being transparent, the answer would be no.”

Prior to this race, Noren carried out a longshot bid against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) but didn’t garner enough support to appear on the ballot.

Both candidates were also asked about their leading choice for presidential nominee. Noren suggested he’d support Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Mitrano said she’s been advised “not to share that information,” but indicated she’d back whoever won the nomination.

This election cycle is a stark difference to 2018 which saw a hard-fought primary between, at one point, eleven candidates. Mitrano was one of five candidates who made it onto the ballot, and she secured the nomination by one percentage point. She lost to Reed 54-46 in the general election but declared her candidacy for 2020 a week later with the support of several Democratic committee chairs.

Vaughn Golden

Vaughn Golden is a freelance radio and print reporter covering politics around the southern tier and central New York. He authors the weekly "Capitol Watch" watchdog report on Ithaca's representatives...