Charles Whalen from Geneva issued the following statement “For Immediate Release” today:
Friends and Fellow Democrats,
Effective immediately, I’m suspending my campaign for Congress.
I remain convinced that my message of advancing our common interests is the only way to defeat Tom Reed and serve effectively in Congress. (Some of my opponents seem to agree: a number have recently adopted a message similar to the one I’ve had from the start.)
Even more important: I’m the only candidate with the combination of first-hand experience and demonstrated commitment needed to manage the budget and economy on behalf of working families — especially now that Republicans have placed an economic time bomb in our tax system.
Nobody in this race matches my 30 year record of practical problem solving on behalf of working families; nobody. Over the course of my career, I’ve worked across upstate New York, forging business-labor partnerships and finding commonsense ways to save jobs and create new ones. I also served more than six years at the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, responsible for vital work on taxes, spending, and their effect on the economy. In addition, my career includes a record of testifying multiple times before Congress on deficits, budget gimmicks, and the economic challenges facing working families — a record of experience that extends back to when Tom Reed was still a university student.
Fixing the tax system must be a top priority because it threatens everything we care about — including jobs, healthcare, education, public investment, the environment, and retirement security. Nobody else can go toe-to-toe with Reed on this all-important issue. And given the fiscal crisis we face today, members can’t delegate the needed expertise to their staff.
Before jumping into the race, I read the job description for the office. It’s laid out in the Constitution. Managing tax policy is the first responsibility listed, followed by managing public spending and the budget (including federal deficits and debt). In fact, the House of Representatives has a special responsibility; the Constitution states, “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House.”
Congress has more than enough lawyers (and teams of them are available to help members draft legislation). But Congress has only one economist — a Republican libertarian with no record of prior practical experience. I was hoping we would change that in 2018, and, in the process, repeal and replace Tom Reed and remind Washington that Congress is OUR House. Now, though, that seems extraordinarily unlikely.
I entered the race when it became clear that taxes, spending, and economic security (including healthcare security) would be central issues in this campaign. But I did so only after observing that my familiarity with numerous policy issues beyond economics — on matters ranging from agriculture and healthcare to immigration and the environment — matched or exceeded that of any other announced candidate. Because I was less familiar with gun policy and defense issues, I made it a top priority to get up to speed on those subjects, resulting in principled stands that show my commitment to sensible policies serving our common interests. My grasp of policy matters and familiarity with the district since the mid-1970s has been evident since my first candidates’ forum and has been highlighted by reporters covering the race.
From the day I announced an interest in running, my campaign has energized voters across the district and across party lines. People respond to my message because they can see it’s a genuine reflection of where I come from and what I’ve done throughout my career. And they appreciate that I have one message for all audiences — a message I’ve delivered with greater and greater effectiveness each week. But my team doesn’t have the resources necessary to mount the type of campaign we need to be successful through November.
In the most recent federal reporting period, my campaign exceeded the expectations of many observers by finishing in the middle of the pack for “cash on hand” at the end of the quarter — and nearly the entire difference separating my campaign from those with more cash can be attributed to my (Democratic) opponents’ use of personal funds. But fundraising relative to other candidates is not what matters: I’m the only Democrat in this race to have worked on a congressional campaign through the general election, and I know the funds I have are not enough. So, unless a huge infusion of cash occurs soon (which, of course, I’d welcome with open arms), I see no way to move forward successfully.
But let me be clear. My inability to raise the funds this campaign needs has nothing to do with the size of the field. For my campaign strategy to have succeeded, there was no room for major unpleasant surprises. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what came my way shortly after I announced, when a vital campaign staff person was unable to come on board because of events beyond anyone’s control. Then, more recently, a serious family illness forced me to put much campaign work on hold for some weeks. I reject the view of those who say the race has too many candidates (a view I’ve heard since before I entered the race) and that the field should be narrowed. To them I say: This is what robust democracy looks like; get over it.
To my family and my supporters, I offer a huge thank you. Our campaign contributed constructively to the race every day. We gave voice to many who felt unheard for too long. We encouraged a new generation of political engagement. And we elevated the policy discussion — by offering fresh ideas as well as new ways of thinking about long-overdue proposals.
I’ve devoted my entire adult life to advancing the interests of working people by means of steps that are both bold and practical. That work will continue, most likely in the form of a nonprofit that aims to find innovative policy solutions, partly by engaging stakeholders across our region. In addition, I was recently elected president (for the current year) of an international association of economists in the tradition of those who gave us the New Deal and Great Society; as my campaign winds down, I’ll have more time than anticipated to devote to that leadership responsibility in the coming months.
I have no plans to endorse another candidate. And I have no interest in joining someone else’s campaign or congressional staff. There was no splash when I entered the race; that’s exactly the way it should be as I exit.
With unwavering hope for the future,