New York Congressional District 22 is in the heart of central upstate New York, a mostly rural or semi-rural district that runs from Utica in the north to Johnson City-Endicott and Binghamton in the south.

If New York had its own flyover country, NY-22 would be it.  The district is so safe Republican, that Democrats are not even running a candidate in this year’s election.

New York District 22

Republican incumbent Richard Hanna either is a liberal or “moderate” Republican, depending who you ask.  Few people call him a conservative, and he’s rated as one of the most liberal Republicans in Congress.

Hanna was challenged by Claudia Tenney, a conservative, Tea Party Republican state assemblywoman.

The race was far tighter than the mainstream media expected.  At the end of the evening, Hanna won by about 1600 votes, 52.8% to 47.2%.  To barely win, Hanna and his supportive SuperPACs spent $2 million to Tenney’s $150,000.

Contrary to how many in the media are portraying the race, Hanna did not win because he was liberal or moderate.  To the contrary, Hanna’s campaign and SuperPACs supporting him ran away from his “moderate” label and fully towards portraying Hanna as the more conservative candidate.

In a complete falsification of reality, the SuperPACs in particular attacked Tenney as not being conservative enough in order elect the more liberal Hanna.

It was, as we wrote numerous times, a false flag operation, convincing voters to vote for the more liberal candidate by portraying the more liberal candidate as more conservative.

Over $1 million was spent on these false flag SuperPAC ads in small television markets — almost certainly the equivalent of several times that much in a large TV market.  The television air war in support of Hanna was, in every sense, a ruse.

Those non-stop, round-the-clock ads are what got me interested in the race.  I’m in NY-23, but in the same Syracuse and Binghamton television markets as NY-22.

Hanna also was helped by an NRA endorsement.  As we saw in the Mia Love contest in Utah-04 in 2012 where the NRA backed the Democrat incumbent against the rising conservative star, the NRA is not hesitant to support the more liberal incumbent so long as the incumbent has high marks on Second Amendment issues.  It doesn’t matter to the NRA if the challenger — Love in Utah-04, Tenney in NY-22 — also is strong on the 2nd Amendment; the incumbent gets protected as a reward.

Guns are big in central NY.  Hanna’s campaign itself raised the claim of Tenney supposedly being in favor of the SAFE Act.  It was false, but once again Hanna was running towards the more conservative position.

The issue which garnered Hanna big SuperPAC contributions, gay marriage, was a non-issue in the race.  Hanna didn’t run on it, and the SuperPAC which spent $700,000 to support Hanna for that purpose didn’t mention it in advertisements.

Tenney received some last minute radio talk show endorsements and conservative media attention in the final week of the campaign, after we brought attention to the false flag SuperPAC ads. That attention helped, but it was too little, too late.

Tenney told Kerry Picket of

“A lot of people spent a lot of time trying to get out there and get the message out and we were just getting inundated with ads—100 ads a day—three or four flyers a day. Robocalls, radio ads. It was relentless. We couldn’t counter that.”

It could have been countered had Tenney received national help.  A little more help would have gone a long way.

But by and large, national conservative and Tea Party groups and politicians ignored the race.

This was a horribly missed opportunity.

In the end, conservatism won in central New York flyover country.  Just not the conservative candidate.