White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is in western New York on Saturday to campaign for Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney, a first-term congresswoman who is facing a strong challenge from Democrat Anthony Brindisi, a state assemblyman. Though Trump carried the 22nd congressional district by 15 points in 2016, Brindisi, a centrist, held a narrow lead in the most recent poll of the race.
Sanders doesn’t have any close ties to district—she’s from Arkansas—but talking about Tenney shouldn’t be much different from her day job. In just two years the incumbent has earned a reputation as a Trump wannabe in a party that’s increasingly filled with nothing but. Following the 2018 massacre at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkand, Florida, Tenney told a New York radio show, “It’s interesting that so many of these people that commit the mass murders end up being Democrats, but the media doesn’t talk about that.” When she was asked about the comments at her campaign kick-off not long after, she called the controversy “fake news.”
In April, Tenney sent out a fundraising email blasting Hillary Clinton, former FBI director James Comey, and former attorney general Loretta Lynch, and asking supporters to help her “lock them up.”
And in 2015, when she was still a state assemblywoman, Tenney attacked the CEO of the Oneida Nation, Ray Halbritter, as “Spray Tan Ray,” stating he “isn’t Oneida”—similar to President Donald Trump’s attacks on Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. But Halbritter is, in fact, a member of the Oneida nation. (The Utica Observer-Dispatch suggested that Tenney’s racist comment was triggered by her anger at the tribe’s exemption from state and local taxes.)