Max Della Pia holds a 26-vote lead over Tracy Mitrano in preliminary results from Tuesday's primary

Following Tuesday’s Democratic primary with results too close to call in the 23rd Congressional District, the Reed campaign blasted Democrats — attacking voters for failing to “make a definitive selection in their Primary.” The Reed response further claimed the candidates are “out of touch.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, is seeking a fourth term in the 23rd district that stretches across the Southern Tier and includes part of the Finger Lakes.

Max Della Pia captured a 26-vote lead over Tracy Mitrano in unofficial results Tuesday, with five candidates vying for the Democratic nomination. The tight race will likely trigger a recount and tally of absentee ballots with certified results available by the end of next week, July 6. The winner will challenge Reed in November for the district covering 11 counties including Yates and part of Ontario.

Della Pia, a retired Air Force colonel and brigadier general in the New York Air National Guard, said Wednesday from his home in Owego he isn’t surprised by the Reed response. It’s in step with Reed’s methods in previous campaigns, he said.

Instead of focusing on his record, Della Pia said Reed “tries to distract people and label people.” People are aware that Reed is “not out for them, but out for himself and his donors,” said Della Pia, an attorney and former congressional aide who worked in economic development for defense contractor Lockheed-Martin. Della Pia added he sees people in the district — regardless of party affiliation, seeking “honesty, integrity, and leadership.”

The full statement from Reed campaign manager Nicholas Weinstein reads: “It’s no surprise that with a field of Extreme Ithaca Liberal options to choose from, the Democrats couldn’t make a definitive selection in their Primary on Tuesday. With their unanimous support for higher taxes, heroin injection sites in our neighborhoods and government-run socialized medicine, these Extreme Ithaca Liberals have clearly demonstrated to the voters that they are out of touch with our values in the Southern Tier, Finger Lakes and Western New York. We look forward to continuing to highlight how extreme and out of touch they are as they sort through the absentee ballots.”

In Tuesday’s unofficial results, Della Pia and Mitrano each garnered 32 percent of the vote. A resident of Penn Yan, Mitrano is a professor, administrator, and consultant with expertise in cybersecurity and information technology.

“Unfortunately, the statement from Congressman Reed’s office is exactly the kind of divisive thing we’ve come to expect from the Congressman,” Mitrano responded via email. “While he should be celebrating the significantly higher voter turnout this year as the win for Democracy that it was, he continues working to create wedges between his own constituents.”

Mitrano is also running on the Working Families Party and Women’s Equality Party lines. Like her fellow Democratic candidates, Mitrano is talking about the ultimate goal of unseating Reed. She pledged support for the winner of the Democratic primary and said she will commit her time, resources and energy to defeat Reed.

In a speech Tuesday night in Corning, Mitrano rallied voters saying “the supporters of our campaign, as well as the supporters of Max, Ian, Linda’s and Eddie’s campaign, are a formidable force.”

The primary gave Ithaca cardiologist Linda Andrei 15 percent of the vote, with Ithaca business owner Ian Golden getting 14 percent and Jamestown attorney Edward Sundquist 6 percent.

Andrei, in a statement after the primary, also emphasized unity. “My priority hasn’t changed,” stated Andrei, in thanking supporters and fellow Democratic candidates. “We must turn New York’s 23rd Congressional District blue and beat Congressman Tom Reed in November. There’s too much at stake.”

Mitrano has fielded questions about her spot on the Working Families and Women’s Equality lines.

“Every candidate who runs for office in New York State knows that after the petitioning process, it is a lengthy and very difficult process to remove one’s name from the ballot,” Mitrano posted on her campaign site. “But rest assured, after the primary, I will be relentless in ensuring that the Democratic nominee is successful in defeating Tom Reed, whether that is me or another candidate. Since I have absolutely no interest in ever running as a third-party spoiler candidate, I’ll do whatever possible to put the nominee in the best position to win against Tom Reed. That is our common goal.”