Tracy Mitrano, the winner of the crowded Democratic primary in New York’s 23rd Congressional District, is optimistic that recent enthusiasm among Democratic voter bases across the country - in particular what she’s seen in this district - will help her against incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, in November’s general election.

“Among Democrats … there is a real recognition that this district is out of step with the economic progress going on around this country,” said Mitrano. “People are ready for a change.”

Since 2010, Reed has defeated the last four Democrats to challenge him for the seat. But Mitrano said she believes this time is different.

She believes she can succeed where other Democrats have failed because her message has “resonated” with voters.

“We have a comprehensive message that touches on what people need the most, and again, that (they are also) preferenced over big corporate sponsors that have become Mr. Reed’s support,” said Mitrano.

Mitrano described her platform as consisting of “putting people first” and “economic development for the 23rd District,” to “lay a foundation where this area becomes attractive to private investment to get us good, enduring, solid jobs in the community.”
Her policy objectives include progressive positions on healthcare, affordable education, environmental conservation, immigration and labor reform, and expanding infrastructure such as internet connections further into rural areas throughout the district.

Mitrano, who grew up in Rochester and is registered to vote in Yates County, according to her website, says previous Democrats were missing dedicated roots to the area.
“I think it really matters that I grew up in Western New York and I have lived in the Southern Tier and in the Finger Lakes,” she said. “I think what might have been missing in the previous four Democratic candidates is that they either grew up here, but left young and never came back, or they did not grow up here, and came as adults.”

Mitrano describes herself as a moderate progressive on a lot of issues, using gun rights as an example. She said her father and uncles were gun owners, and is a gun owner herself after inheriting some.

But she said she draws the line with “powerful” firearm interest groups.

“I support responsible gun owners and ownership," Mitrano said. "I do not support powerful lobbying groups pushing their interests against the needs of public safety, especially in our schools."

Despite this, she faces an uphill battle against Reed in a district that has leaned convincingly Republican for years.

In a statement, Reed’s campaign said Mitrano is “out of touch” with voters and families and will not represent the district’s values in Washington.

"Tracy Mitrano is out of touch with our values in the Southern Tier, Finger Lakes and Western New York and we will continue to demonstrate that to the voters,” said Reed campaign manager Nick Weinstein. "With an Extreme Ithaca Liberal platform that includes higher taxes, heroin injection sites in our neighborhoods and government-run socialized medicine, Mitrano has already shown that her values do not represent our hardworking families."
A PhD in American History and graduate of Cornell Law School with a career in internet policy and information technology, Mitrano defeated a field of four Democrats in the primary that included Max Della Pia, Eddie Sundquist, Linda Andrei and Ian Golden.

Della Pia, who was neck-and-neck with Mitrano until absentee ballots were counted, conceded to her Thursday, making her the expected Democratic nominee.