Congressman Tom Reed, R-Corning, didn't shy away from questions regarding his feelings about having a new political challenger in Democrat John Plumb of Jamestown. The congressman welcomed him to the race and said he "looks forward to the debate."
The 45-year-old Plumb most recently held the position of Director for Defense Policy and Strategy on the National Security Council, from April 2013 to May 2015. He has also held advisory positions in the Department of Defense and has worked in the Senate as a legislative assistant on Military issues.
"This is a democracy, and people have the right to choose. It's fundamental right of the people," Reed said.
Upbeat, he said, "I'm very confident, if we continue to do our jobs and continue to listen to the people of the 23rd Congressional District as we have been by going to our town halls, and being out there and truly listening to them and having success going forward I'm confident where we will stand in the election."
Reed said that he doesn't mind a long protracted battle for his position, pointing out that his 2014 opponent, Tompkins County Legislator Martha Robertson, D-Ithaca, announced her campaign in April.
"I guess the campaign season is getting shorter with an announcement in July," he said.
He explained that he had no right to begrudge an early start to the next campaign.
"I announced on July first myself on my first go-around, so I understand why these political calenders seem quite long, and that's why you have to make the right priorities," he explained.
The congressman did not endorse RNC emails sent last week attacking his opponent's close ties to the Obama administration, but he did not walk away from them either.
"Obviously his long tenure working for Obama and others in the Democratic party is one to be asked, but I'll let the pundits and political folks engage in that debate," he said.
Reed took a jab himself. "Mr. Plumb is apparently coming from the mindset that there are unlimited pots of money in Washington DC and we can continue to carry on his boss's work of raising the deficit," he said.
"I think there will be a clear contradiction between the two of us," Reed predicted.
Reed was asked if he has ever crossed paths with Plumb in Washington. Reed could not recall a particular instance.
"Maybe at some point we did, but I just do not recall any," he said.
Reed pointed out that Plumb is just the first competitor to come forward, and he wouldn't be surprised if there was a Democratic primary next year.
"I'm sure there may be others that are contemplating it on the Democratic side and are likely to get in. There is a lot of time between now and then," he said.
There has been some speculation that Robertson may run for the seat again.
Reed says he's taking his potential opponents seriously, but the best way to do that is to continue working on the issues at hand.
"My focus is obviously going to be on the job voters sent me to Washington to do, and that's to fight for them day in and day out while we're in office," he said.