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Frank Puglisi's attacks on Tracy Mitrano and the NY 23rd Congressional Democratic Primary

Submitted by Robin Messing on Sat, 06/16/2018 - 8:57pm

Read this article about Cattaraugus County Democratic Committee Chairman Frank Puglisi and his attack on Tracy Mitrano, one of five candidates running in the Democratic primary for a chance to replace Tom Reed in the NY 23rd district.


I want to start my response to this article by reposting something I wrote a while back and then updating my observations in light of what I have seen here and elsewhere.

I wrote the following months ago:


I am holding off on endorsing anyone right now. However, I will tell you what my criteria are for deciding who to endorse. Actually, there are just two factors that I am looking at when deciding how to vote. 1) Who has the skill set that is most needed in Congress at this point in time. 2) Who has the greatest chance of beating Reed in November.

The first criteria can be broken down a bit further. Are we facing any unique threats as a democracy that we have not faced before? Does Congress have any members whose backgrounds especially prepare them to address those threat(s)?

The answer to the first question is obvious. The Russians have undermined our democracy by hacking into the DNC and John Podesta’s email accounts and releasing the emails through WikiLeaks and other venues. They have also established thousands of accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites to plant fake news stories meant to sow division within our country and throw the election to Donald Trump. They MIGHT also be using groups like the NRA to undermine our democracy.

No democratic candidate can solve the problem of treason on the right. But we desperately need someone with a firm grasp of cyber security and cyber policy issues in Congress to help prevent the manipulation and undermining of our democracy while keeping the internet as open and free as possible. There are LOTS of lawyers in Congress. There are business people in Congress. There are a few doctors in Congress. I don’t know if any members of Congress are elected to Congress with a cyber security and cyber policy background, but if there are, then they are relatively few. And there would be fewer still who are lawyers as well. I like all the other Democratic candidates. All would be a huge improvement over Reed. But Tracy has the skills that are most desperately needed NOW to keep our democracy functioning.

Of course, the most well-qualified candidate in the world won’t do us any good if they can’t beat Tom Reed. I am more uncertain about this criteria. This is why I’m still keeping an open mind as to who to vote for and I hope to read more arguments as to why Candidate X or Candidate Y has the strongest chance of beating Reed.


Now for my new observations. If I could wave a magic wand and put Tracy in Congress, I would. I still think between her legal background and her background in cybersecurity she is the person most needed to counter Donald Trump’s agenda and his negligence in protecting our country from cyberthreats. So my heart is still with Tracy.

BUT—and it is a big BUT—I am having doubts about her electability. Personally, I would LOVE to see licensing requirements for gun owners as Tracy has suggested. After all, if you need a license to drive a car, why shouldn’t you need one to own a gun? But this proposal will be DOA and Reed will hammer Tracy over the head with it continuously. I fear this position will hurt Tracy’s chances of winning.

I am also concerned with some of the points that Frank Puglisi raises. I am not saying all of them are valid. I am not going to comment on whether his comments were made in good or bad faith. It really doesn’t matter whether they are in good faith or not—I can guarantee you that whoever wins the nomination will have to face an onslaught of bad faith attacks from Tom Reed--and if Frank knows about these issues we should count on Tom Reed knowing about them and using them against Tracy.

And Tracy may have a perfectly reasonable explanation for every point Frank raised. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is whether voters will buy her explanations—and I think a majority of voters are predisposed not to believe her.  President Trump won a solid victory in the NY23rd district, and I have little faith in the intelligence of the average voter in the district.  My motto is: It takes a very *SPECIAL* kind of moron to believe that a draft dodging, tax evading, charity cheapskate billionaire cares for anyone but himself. The fact that so few Trump voters have turned against him even after seeing his lies, his incompetence, his sheer vileness in action, indicates to me that they aren’t very smart and they are unlikely to believe sophisticated explanations—especially sophisticated explanations from a liberal.

Now, I make that last point at the risk that Tom Reed or one of his assistants might see it and turn me into a poster boy and use my statement as an example of what an Extreme Ithaca Liberal looks like. He COULD use my claim disparaging the average voter intelligence to associate me with the Democratic nominee and smear him or her with it. Such an action would prove Reed’s intellectual dishonesty, so let me be very clear about this—It is a statement that I ALONE have made. I do not work for or represent any of the candidates and there is no reason to believe that any of the candidates share my contempt for the voters’ intelligence.

But there is someone else out there who APPEARS to share my contempt for the intelligence of the voters. His name is Tom Reed. He seems to think he can slap a one-size-fits-all label on all the candidates and the voters will conclude they are all EXTREME ITHACA LIBERALS—even though it can be demonstrably proven that Eddie Sundquist and Max Della Pia are not from Ithaca, even though they are hardly extremists, and even though slapping a label of “liberal” or “conservative” on a politician is no substitute for debate on policy or debate about the wisdom of supporting a President with fascistic tendencies—a President who praises Putin, Duterte, and Kim Jong Un while attacking our allies in Europe and Canada—a President whose vile policy rips children from their parents and shoves them into camps—a President who KNOWS his policy is so vile that he has to lie about it and falsely blame the Democrats for it.

So Tom Reed can take my claim about the intelligence of the average voter and use it to smear the Democratic candidate. But if he takes my statement out of context and does not quote the previous two paragraphs in their entirety he will prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he is an intellectually dishonest bootweasel, and I will not be shy about pointing this out repeatedly.

But back to the question of who to endorse. My heart says go with Tracy, but my brain says go with someone else. All the other candidates are extremely well qualified. I am still undecided, but I think Max will be the most difficult to attack as an Extreme Ithaca Liberal. I am beginning to lean towards him.


Update 6/24/18: Former NY 23rd Congressional Candidate, Karl Warrington, wrote a letter to the Ithaca Times calling Frank Puglisi a liar. Warrington criticized Puglisi for providing ammunition for Reed and calling for voters to unite behind whoever wins the primary to defeat Reed. Here is the first paragraph of his letter.  Visit to see the rest.


I am writing this letter as a private citizen and as a former congressional candidate of NY 23rd. I was reading Frank Puglisi’s open letter disparaging Tracy Mitrano. Time and time again, Chairman Puglisi has been relentless in his attack on Tracy Mitrano, not in my opinion, because he doesn’t think Tracy can win, but precisely because from the very start Chairman Puglisi has seen Tracy as a threat.  Chairman Puglisi, once I dropped out in January and endorsed Tracy,  he either didn’t do his homework or LIED about my allegiance to the Democratic party, suggesting that I was a Trump supporter by mischaracterizing BADLY a Tweet I sent just before the November 2016 Presidential Elections.  It only took 30 seconds or less to see from my Facebook page and other social media that I abhorred Trump with all of my being.  The next day, even after being called out, Chairman Puglisi didn’t apologize but doubled down on his LIE.


Eddie Sundquist, one of the other candidates running against Tracy Mitrano, has published a press release questioning Mitrano's honesty in declaring her places of residency. He raises suspicions that she may have been a resident of Massachusetts and that she may have illegally received a NY Star Tax deduction. Mitrano responded with her own press release rebutting Sundquest's accusations. It appears that Mitrano got sloppy during the sale of her Massachusetts home and inadvertently signed papers declaring that that home was her primary residence. Mitrano's press release states:


The campaign first learned last night that one of the numerous documents Tracy signed to sell her temporary property was a document called a Declaration of Homestead about ownership and marital status that included a parenthetical clause about primary residence. She was unaware of the clause when she signed the document. She has contacted an attorney in Massachusetts to file an amended document. To date, there has been no tax consequence because this form only impacts tax filing for 2018.


Mitrano's excuse may be valid. Actually, I believe her when she says the Declaration was unintentional. But it provides an easy target for Reed to shoot at. Reed will hammer at this over and over and over again in the hopes that the voters  are so stupid that they will forget that he voted for a tax plan whose benefits will mainly go to the top 1% and will increase the deficit by over $1 trillion over the next 10 years, thus increasing the likelihood that the government will slash Social Security and Medicare benefits. Reed will hope voters stand stupidly fixated on Mitrano's mistake rather than notice that by voting for this tax bill which killed the individual mandate, Reed made it possible for the Trump Administration's Justice Department to join 20 states in a lawsuit aimed at destroying medical protection for those with pre-existing conditions. And he will be hoping that voters will be so obsessed with questioning Mitrano's integrity that they will forget to question why Reckless Reed favors a policy that could lead to the crippling of the United States.

Reed will be desperately counting on the stupidity of the voters to get him re-elected. Are the voters that stupid? I'd rather not give Reed the ammo to test that theory. I still think Tracy Mitrano is the best candidate to have in Congress to counter the cybersecurity threats facing the U.S. But I doubt she is electable.  I will fight like hell to get Tracy elected if she wins the primary, but I will vote for Max Della Pia because he is well qualified, because he has served our country honorably, and he because he will be the most difficult candidate for Tom Reed to attack.


Update 6/25/18: This article about the political leanings of the NY23rd electorate strengthens my belief that Max Della Pia is the candidate most likely to beat Tom Reed. Pay attention to this: thing is clear: the spread between conservative voters and left-leaning voters is too great in NY-23 for a Democrat to win without stealing voters from Reed


Update 6/25/18 6:00 PM

James Campbell, a member of the Ontario County Democratic Committee, has presented new information to me that is causing me to think twice about my decision to support Max Della Pia instead of Tracy Mitrano.

First, I’d like to state that Mr. Campbell is very well spoken and has thought through support for Tracy very well.  He pointed to a response to an article I linked to in in this blog post. I had not seen his response because he made it after I had read the article and written this post. You can read his response in the comments here.


Second, take a look at his response to a comment I made on this Facebook post. You will have to click on the link that currently says “10 replies” to see it.


I have just spent some time chatting with Mr. Campbell. My biggest—actually, my only problem with Tracy—is that Reed can smear her and that I doubted she would get Republican votes. I do know she is an extremely strong speaker and she can hit back very hard against Reed when he attacks her. What Mr. Campbell told me is that Republicans in Ontario County are fed up with Reed and that they are interested in voting for Tracy. She has spent more time in Ontario County than any of the other candidates and she is well on her way to making inroads into Reed’s base.

I believe Mr. Campbell, and I am absolutely certain he will support whichever candidate wins the primary. After listening to him, I am convinced Tracy has a better chance against Tom Reed than I originally thought. I am now leaning towards Tracy. I probably won’t make my final decision until I step into the voting booth.
I apologize for being wishy washy and for not being loyal to any candidate. I hope I have not, and am not, influencing anyone to vote for the weaker candidate, whoever that may be. All the candidates are so good that this is a very tough decision for me to make.