PENN YAN, NY — Having been officially declared the Democratic candidate for New York’s 23rd congressional district Tuesday, Tracy Mitrano came out swinging in her weekly press call Thursday.

Characterizing Republican Rep. Tom Reed as “an extremist dressed as a partisan hack,” Mitrano put her own campaign firmly in the political center, saying that’s where most of the district voters are.

“They just went good, decent, honest government,” Mitrano said. “They do not want politicians corrupted by self-interest or corporate money or political PACs. They just want to have a good, decent life for everybody, not just people that look like them. They want the United States to realize the dream of opportunity and equality, fairness and justice.”

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Mitrano ran against Reed in 2018, and attributes her loss to a lengthy primary with a crowded bench. She’s spent her time since traveling the district, listening to people, showing up at local events, spending last summer in Chautauqua County, the westernmost part of a district the geographical size of New Jersey. The result: She’s been endorsed by all the county Democratic committees in the district plus top Democrats like Senator Chuck Schumer, and forged ties with voters across party lines.

“What we have now is a campaign that is united and coherent, focused and moving forward with alacrity to what I truly believe will be a successful finish on November third,” she said.

Mitrano also likes the ticket she’ll be sharing in November, from former Vice President Joe Biden at the top to strong Democratic candidates for New York State Assembly and Senate.

“The momentum is with us,” Mitrano said. “The country is increasingly very desirous of seeing the change they need and want. And while this has been true in healthcare, education, infrastructure, the environment and economic development before we had the economic crisis, it is patently clear and true now in light of covid, the economic crisis and the Black Lives Matter movement, and the understanding that this issue must be addressed.

 “It's a very exciting time,” she added. “We are at a precipice. This country could go in different directions. But I believe firmly that the center will hold, and that those who have been out on the extreme, including Mr. Reed, will now fail.”

Mitrano is skeptical of Reed’s recent efforts to appear willing to work across the aisle.

“Tom Reed can play bipartisan. He can talk a good game,” she said. “In ten years, he has learned how to be slick. But if you look at his voting record, it's appalling.” As examples, Mitrano cited Reed’s alignment with President Trump against the Heroes Act, and with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s attitude that municipalities stretched by covid be allowed to go bankrupt.

“I can't wait to have a debate with Mr. Reed,” Mitrano said. “I will challenge him to do more than the two and a half debates that he gerrymandered” so they all took place in friendlier parts of the district.

“He only seems to go along the Southern Tier or out west,” she pointed out. “The people in the eastern side of this district deserve to see him face to face in a debate with me to determine whom they believe will better represent their interest in Congress.”