Our 2018 congressional race is now national atention from the Daily Kos in their today’s DAILY KOS ELECTION roundup. Of course it focuses more on Star Trek and Mark Twin than issues.
• NY-23: Kapla, warriors! Over the weekend, Democratic Ulysses Town Board member John Hertzler announced that he would challenge New York GOP Rep. Tom Reed. Hertzler, often credited as “J.G. Hertzler,” is best known for playing the Klingon General Martok on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as well as several other characters on different Star Trekseries. (He also co-wrote two good novels about Martok set after DS9ended.) However, while Hertzler says he will campaign in character, he will not be going around this upstate New York seat devouring Gagh, chugging Blood Wine, or confronting trackers with a bat’leth.
Instead, Hertzler says he’ll be “making appearances thoughout [sic] the district of 11 counties, sometimes in my birth persona as JG Hertzler and at other times I will endeavor to present my ideas and policies through the brilliant humorist for all ages, Citizen Twain.” Indeed, Mark Twain (born Samuel Clemens) used to live in Elmira, which is located in the 23rd Congressional District. Hertzler also says his campaign is both a “valentine” to both Twain and to actor Hal Holbrook, who portrayed Clemens for over 60 years in a one-act show and also played Clemens in a two-parter on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
This seat, which includes blue Ithaca but is surrounded by more conservative counties, has been an elusive target for Democrats. Back in 2012, Reed pulled off a shockingly close 52-48 win in a race that attracted little attention at the same time as Romney was carrying this upstate seat 50-48. National Democrats tried to target Reed over the next two cycles, but the 2014 GOP wave and Trump’s 2016 55-40 win helped him decisively prevail both times. Democratic teacher Rick Gallant, a former member of the New York State United Teachers Board of Directors, entered the race last month. Presumably, Gallant will campaign only as Rick Gallant. We also assume that he won’t be challenging Hertzler to any duels to the death, but you never know.
While Gallant looks like a much more serious Democratic candidate, it’s unclear if he’ll have the resources to run a serious campaign. The 23rd is a tough seat, but if Reed, who was an early and ardent Trump supporter, looks vulnerable, Democratic leaders probably would prefer not to have Mark Twain as their nominee. General Martok may be another story: Say what you will about him, but Tom Reed would have a tough time portraying him as weak on Changeling terrorism.
In case you were wondering Hertzler is a registered Democrat.