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Republicans take major hit with loss of Reed from governor's race

Celia Clarke / WSKG Public Media

A political analyst said the loss of Rep. Tom Reed as a potential candidate for New York governor is a tremendous blow to the Republican Party. Reed had been publicly entertaining the idea of running for governor in 2022, but he announced Sunday that he would seek no public office next year.

Reed's decision comes following an allegation of sexual misconduct by a former lobbyist.

Timothy Kneeland, chair Nazareth College's Political Science Department, said Reed could have been a strong candidate for governor and might have had a chance to win some independent votes.

"Reed was one of these chamelion-like figures who worked well within the Trump wing of the Republican Party, yet at the same time, he's part of a caucus that is working across party lines and his vote has actually been cast for a number of Democratic initiative, including recently support for reinvigorating the Equal Rights Amendement," Kneeland said.

Reed apologized to Nicolette Davis, the woman who said Reed inappropriately touched her in 2017. He said the incident took place during a time when he was struggling with his "powerlessness over alcohol," but said that was not an excuse for what happened.

Kneeland said this might have been a political strategy on the part of Reed to head off any other potential allegations.

"Perhaps if Reed had not come out, there may have been - we don't know - but there may have been others who could have come forward," he said.

Kneeland said it was wise to apologize without trying to qualify his actions.

Cuomo has faced mounting pressure to resign. So far, that has not been the case for Reed.

Kneeland said the consequences are different when a representative from the legislative branch resigns as compared to a governor.

"If Governor Cuomo were to resign, Kathy Hochul would take over immediately. If Tom Reed resigns, the people of the 23rd district lose representation. The people of that district would be punished and the only thing they did was re-elect Reed not knowing of these allegations," Kneeland said.

Kneeland is skeptical that Reed has any political future.

"The charges against him are more than mere harrassment. They might be under the guise of assault," he said. "I understand the police in Minneapolis have been informed of this and may be launching their own investigation."

Kneeland said the scandals involving Cuomo and Reed are evidence that "the good ol' boy network of the past, the ability to silence women, is over."

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