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New York's 29th congressional district elections, 2010

New York's 29th congressional district election, 2010

November 2, 2010 (2010-11-02)

Nominee Tom Reed Matthew Zeller
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 94,209 (special)
101,209 (general)
73,513 (special)
78,578 (general)
Percentage 56% 44%

Representative before election

Eric Massa

Elected Representative

Tom Reed

Two elections in New York's 29th district were held on November 2, 2010. The candidates vied to replace Eric Massa, who resigned the seat on March 8, 2010 as a result of health issues and allegations of sexual harassment.

The Governor called for a special election to be held simultaneously with the general election on the same day, with the special election determining who will fill out the remainder of Massa's term in the 111th United States Congress (from November 2010 to January 2011) and the general election determining who serves in the 112th United States Congress.

Republican Thomas W. Reed, Jr., the former mayor of Corning, New York, defeated Democrat Matthew Zeller, a CIA analyst and war veteran who was living in Washington, DC at the time of Massa's resignation, and Janice Volk, a write-in candidate.

The old 29th District will be replaced by the new 23rd District and includes Ithaca.


  • Background 1
  • Candidates 2
    • Democratic party 2.1
      • Nominee 2.1.1
      • Not running 2.1.2
    • Republican party 2.2
      • Nominee 2.2.1
      • Not running, or eliminated 2.2.2
    • Independence Party 2.3
    • Conservative Party 2.4
    • Working Families Party 2.5
  • Horse Race Metrics 3
  • Endorsements 4
    • Tom Reed 4.1
    • Matthew Zeller 4.2
    • Janice Volk 4.3
  • Polling 5
  • Results 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Democrat Eric J. Massa won this district by 1.8 percentage points in 2008 over then-two-term incumbent John "Randy" Kuhl. The district leans Republican (CPVI R+5), voted for John McCain over Barack Obama by a 51-48 margin, and, accounting for redistricting, had been held by a Republicans for almost a century, except for Democrat Stan Lundine's time representing the area in the 1970s and 1980s.[1] Massa, as of early 2009, had an active campaign war chest of over $38,000, most of it from labor union interests,[2] and intended on using the fund for a 2010 campaign.[3] At the time of his resignation, he had raised over $600,000.[4] The NRCC targeted Massa for voting in favor of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act.[5]

However, on March 3, 2010, Massa announced that he would retire after his first term, following reports that he had suffered a recurrence of cancer and allegations of sexual harassment; Massa later announced his resignation effective March 8.[6] Governor David Paterson had the option to call a special election (much as resignations in the 20th and 23rd districts prompted), but because it is an election year, Paterson was not compelled to do so immediately. Much speculation was aired over when the special election would occur, but it ultimately was set to coincide with the general election.[7][8][9]

On April 23, 2010, Steuben County Republican chairman Bill Hatch announced that he would be filing a lawsuit that, if successful, would force the governor to acknowledge the vacancy and call the special election in the immediate future.[10] Clause I.2.4 of the U.S. Constitution requires the governor of a state issue a "writ of election" for any congressional vacancies, which would technically place Governor Paterson in contempt if he did not recognize the vacancy. The judge hearing the case denied a motion from the Paterson administration to dismiss the lawsuit on May 13.[11]

On May 12, 2010, Paterson announced that he would set the special election for November 2, 2010, and would not issue the required writ of election until October. This would result in the seat remaining vacant for eight months, far longer than the 30 to 40 days dictated by New York law. It would also result in a general election and special election occurring on the same day, with the winner of the special election serving from the moment the election is certified (or the loser concedes, whichever is first) until January 2011, and the winner of the general election serving from that point until 2013. Furthermore, the redundant election complicates the primary election process: it would be theoretically possible for either Reed or Zeller to be defeated in the primary election in mid-September, but then remain on the ballot for the special election.[12] On top of this, state law dictates that special elections cannot be held for vacancies acknowledged after July 1, except in special circumstances.[13] Following the announcement, Angelo Campini, who is challenging Reed in the primary election, stated that he would consider joining the lawsuit or filing one of his own over the date of the election if it resulted in him being pushed off the ballot.[14]

Judge David Larimer issued a ruling in the case on June 4, 2010, officially acknowledging the vacancy, but ignoring the state law regarding the requirement for calling a special election within 30 to 40 days of the acknowledged vacancy. As such, Larimer would not compel Paterson to call the election before November 2.[15] The plaintiffs considered an appeal but never followed through.[16]


Democratic party

The Democrats took longer to choose a candidate for office. After most of the names that were mentioned pulled themselves out of consideration, the party chose Matthew Zeller, a 28-year-old CIA analyst who had not lived in New York since he had left for war. Zeller was an ROTC-trained Army officer who served in Afghanistan and holds master's degrees in international relations and public administration.[17]


Not running

  • John Batiste, retired Major General[8]
  • Sandra Frankel, town supervisor of Brighton, former lieutenant governor candidate[18]
  • Mike Green, Monroe County District Attorney[19]
  • Shawn Hogan, mayor of Hornell[20]
  • Susan John, assemblywoman (speculated)
  • David Koon, assemblyman[21]
  • Barbara Lifton, assemblywoman from Ithaca[22][23]
  • Michael McCormick, former Allegany County legislator, instead ran for Catharine Young's seat in state senate and lost[24]
  • David Nachbar, Massa's 2008 primary opponent, Bausch & Lomb executive (speculated), instead ran for Joseph Errigo's former seat in state assembly and lost to Sean Hanna[25]
  • Ellen Polimeni, mayor of Canandaigua[25]
  • David Rose, teacher in the Henrietta-Rush School District[26]
  • John Tonello, mayor of Elmira (speculated)[27]
  • Mary Wilmot, regional director for the Paterson administration, heir to the Wilmorite fortune, instead ran for James Alesi's seat in state senate and lost[25][28]

Republican party


Not running, or eliminated

  • Angelo Campini, pizza shop owner from Henrietta [29] Failed to deliver a petition to get onto the primary ballot.[30] After proposing a write-in campaign, Campini bowed out on September 30, 2010, endorsing Reed.[31]
  • Janice Volk, Cuba resident, alpaca farmer and black conservative community activist[32][33] Submitted 1,400 signatures to secure primary ballot, but those petitions were challenged.[34] Enough of the signatures were stricken that could invalidate the nomination, but some were on questionable grounds (such as one that claimed that Gowanda, New York did not exist). Though Volk later announced plans to seek a third-party line,[35] she was unable to do so. Volk insists she is still in the race through a write-in campaign.[36]

Independence Party

  • Tom Reed, Republican nominee[41][42]

Conservative Party

  • Tom Reed, Republican nominee

Working Families Party

  • Matthew Zeller, Democratic nominee

Horse Race Metrics

At the time of Massa's resignation, the lone announced candidate, Tom Reed, had approximately $120,000 cash on hand.[4] According to Reed, "in our last report, we raised $233,000."[43]

As of the first quarter of 2010, Reed has raised $481,879[44] and had $287,222 cash on hand.[29]

As of July 2010, Volk had not yet raised enough funds to need to file with the Federal Election Commission, which would indicate less than $5,000 in fundraising and/or spending.[45] Reed raised $686,449 by that point, approximately $100,000 from his own account, while Zeller had raised $137,885.[46]

As of September 2010, Reed had raised $809,464 and had $361,315 in cash on hand. Zeller raised $232,425 and had $50,418 in cash on hand.[47]

With Reed heavily favored, he donated $75,000 of his campaign money to the National Republican Congressional Committee and the New York Senate Republican Committee less than one week before the election.[48]


Tom Reed

Matthew Zeller

Janice Volk

  • Jim Ostrowski, 1994 Libertarian Party gubernatorial candidate and WNY Tea Party Coalition Co-Founder
  • Amy McManus/Amy Mikolajczyk, talk show host on WLEA out of Hornell, NY and future Hornell city council candidate
  • David Chamberlain, Village of Cuba, NY Mayor (1990–1995)


Poll Source Date(s)
Tom Reed (R) Matthew Zeller (D) Undecided
Siena poll September 21, 2010 44% 30% 26%
We Ask America April 20, 2010 41.38% 24.01% 34.62%


Reed won by a 56%-44% vote in both the special and the general elections. Reed, for the first time since Amo Houghton in 2002, won every county in the district. However, he lost his home city of Corning, as well as the city of Hornell.[49] All write-ins, including (but not exclusively) Volk's, totaled 527 votes for the general and 510 for the special, less than 0.3% of the vote.[50]

Hornell mayor Shawn Hogan predicted that unless Zeller were to move back to Washington, DC, that Zeller would run for the seat again in 2012.[51]


  • Politics Now: Reed gains Paxon's support for Massa seat. The Buffalo News. March 5, 2010.
  1. ^ "Local Republicans may have had big hand in Massa success.". Olean Times Herald. 6 November 2008. 
  2. ^ Kelly, Erin. Money keeps flowing to Massa. Gannett News Service via Star-Gazette. 6 February 2009.
  3. ^ Kelly, Erin. GOP attacks Massa for taking corporate PAC funds. Gannett News Service. 12 February 2009.
  4. ^ a b Miller, Rick (2010-03-05). Democrats left surprised, GOP sees opening. Olean Times Herald.
  5. ^ Benjamin, Elizabeth. NRCC Hits NY Dems On Stimulus. New York Daily News. 12 February 2009.
  6. ^ Benjamin, Elizabeth (2010-03-03). Dem Source: Massa Won't Run (Updatedx2). New York Daily News: The Daily Politics.
  7. ^ Dunning, Joe and Bob Recotta (2010-03-10). Winner: Paterson to call special election. The Leader (Corning, New York). Retrieved 2010-03-10.
  8. ^ a b Miller, Rick (2010-03-21). Congressional candidates will be interviewed this week. Olean Times Herald. Retrieved 2010-03-21.
  9. ^ You May Not Have A Congressman Until January of 2011. WLEA. Retrieved 2010-03-26.
  10. ^ "Hatch: Lawsuit To Force Special Election For Massa Seat". Canisteo Valley News. 2010-04-23. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  11. ^ Judge denies Paterson 's attempt to get special election case thrown out of court. WLEA. Retrieved 2010-05-15.
  12. ^ Benjamin, Elizabeth (2010-05-12). Paterson: I'll Call a Special Election in NY-29. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
  13. ^ Vielkind, Jimmy (2010-05-13). Elections board: not sure if NY-29 special is legal. Albany Times Union. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  14. ^ "Angelo Campini Might Sue The Governor Over Special Election Date". Canisteo Valley News. 2010-05-13. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  15. ^ "Judge Sides With Paterson On NY-29 Special". 2010-06-04. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  16. ^ Dunning, Joe (2010-06-05). "Judge rules on special election - Corning, NY - The Corning Leader". Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  17. ^ a b Today (2001-09-11). "NY-29: Dems Pick Zeller as Candidate - Rochester, News, Weather, Sports, and Events". Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  18. ^ Dunning, Joe (2010-03-10). "Winner: Paterson to call special election - Corning, NY - The Corning Leader". Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  19. ^ Today. "Dems Approach Green About Replacing Massa - Rochester, News, Weather, Sports, and Events". Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  20. ^ "Hornell mayor will not pursue Massa's seat". Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  21. ^ "Assemblyman David Koon Drops Out of Congressional Race". Canisteo Valley News. 2010-04-01. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  22. ^ [1]
  23. ^ [2]
  24. ^ "Democrats interview potential candidates for 29th district". 2010-03-29. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  25. ^ a b c Today. "NY-29 BLOG: Here’s What I’m Hearing (UPDATE) - Rochester, News, Weather, Sports, and Events". Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  26. ^ "News - Gov. Paterson not expected to call special election to fill vacant seat". Olean Times Herald. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  27. ^ Briggs, Tyler (2010-03-07). "With Massa gone, what’s next? - Hornell, NY - Hornell Evening Tribune". Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  28. ^
  29. ^ a b Zremski, Jerry (2010-04-21). House in disrepute but area incumbents have little to fear. The Buffalo News. Retrieved 2010-04-21.
  30. ^ by Tim M. (view) (2010-07-16). "Candidates' petitions were due Thursday for major parties". Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  31. ^ Briggs, Tyler (2010-09-29). Pizzeria owner drops out of race. Hornell Evening Tribune. Retrieved 2010-09-30.
  32. ^ Briggs, Tyler (2010-05-26). Allegany Co. woman enters race for 29th district. Evening Tribune (Hornell, NY). Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  33. ^ Miller, Rick (2010-06-13). Volk launches bid for Congress. Olean Times Herald. Retrieved 2010-06-13.
  34. ^ "Janice Volk's Political Petition Objected To". Canisteo Valley News. 2010-07-20. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  35. ^ Briggs, Tyler (2010-08-05). "Despite petition challenge, Volk vows to soldier on - Hornell, NY - Hornell Evening Tribune". Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  36. ^ Briggs, Tyler. "No "Tea" party - Hornell, NY - Hornell Evening Tribune". Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  37. ^ Seiler, Casey (2010-03-12). Capitol Confidential. Retrieved 2010-03-12.
  38. ^ Frisch, Kevin and Julie Sherwood (2010-03-03). With Massa out, Republicans rethinking 29th district race. Canandaigua Messenger Post.
  39. ^ "Kuhl decides against run for Massa seat". 2010-03-10. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  40. ^ Young Responds to Massa Resignation. WGRZ. Retrieved 2010-03-06.
  41. ^ Tim Kolpien (2010-07-14). "Reed Campaign to File More Than 820 Petitions Containing Over 10,500 Signatures". Tom Reed For Congress. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  42. ^ "Challenges To Tom Reed's Petition Defeated". Canisteo Valley News. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  43. ^ Recotta, Bob (2010-03-11). "Support for Reed expands - Corning, NY - The Corning Leader". Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  44. ^ "Buffalo, NY | Democrat Matt Zeller Running for Massa's Old Seat in Congress". Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  45. ^ Terreri, Jill (2010-07-12). Loaded field for Eric Massa's old seat. Gannett News Service. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  46. ^ Tumulty, Brian (2010-07-18). Tom Reed has a large lead in cash in 29th Congressional District. Gannett News Service. Retrieved 2010-07-19.
  47. ^ Briggs, Tyler (2010-09-09). Money draws mud fight in race for Congress. Hornell Evening Tribune. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
  48. ^ Benjamin, Elizabeth (2010-10-29). Reed's largesse. State of Politics. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
  49. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^

External links

Official campaign sites
  • Campini for Congress
  • Reed for Congress
  • Volk for Congress
  • Zeller for Congress
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