Republican Tom Reed represents NY-23, the congressional district that stretches in the Southern Tier of upstate New York along the Pennsylvania border from Corning to Lake Erie in the west.

The District includes liberal Ithaca, which before 2010 was in the heavily gerrymandered 22nd District contorted in a snake-like manner to keep far-leftist Maurice “Red” Hinchey in office. After 2010 redistricting, which was done by the judiciary in New York, Ithaca moved to the new 23rd District, which is mostly rural and conservative.

We covered Reed’s 2014 race against Tompkins County (Ithaca) candidate Martha Robertson. Democrats thought they had a real chance to take the District since Reed won by only 4 points in 2012, and poured money in to help Robertson. But it was to no avail.

We played a part in exposing Robertson’s far-left politics, which left her reeling, as summarized in my November 2014 post, Case study: Electoral crushing of star Democratic challenger (#NY23):

There have been few electoral races in which Legal Insurrection played a more decisive role than in the congressional race in my home district NY-23 this cycle.

Martha Robertson was challenging incumbent Republican Tom Reed, who won the district in 2012 by about 4 points. Reed was considered vulnerable.

Robertson was the promising star in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee candidate roster slated to take Reed out.

Robertson earned the coveted “Red-to-Blue” designation, meaning that she was one of a small number of Democratic prospects to flip a Republican seat. Robertson was an Emily’s List favorite.

Money poured in to support Robertson.

But Robertson’s campaign never really got off the ground as she geared up in the fall of 2013. Our accurate and in depth reporting was a part of that failure.

More important to Reed’s win is that he is an excellent candidate who has a good feel for the district. During the Robertson challenge, Reed’s campaign ran advertisements portraying her as an “Extreme Ithaca Liberal.”

It drove extreme Ithaca liberals completely crazy, but it touched a nerve in the District.

This TV commercial is one of the funniest I’ve seen:

Reed ended up winning the election easily, by over 20 points.

In 2016, Reed was one of the first congressmen to endorse Donald Trump. National Democrats figured they couldn’t run a Martha Robertson-type again, so they selected John Plumb, an ex-military guy from the western part of the District, far from Ithaca. But Plumb never gained any traction, and Reed won easily again, by over 15 points.

Reed has not run from Trump or the electorate, and has held many townhalls where other Republicans have shied away. We covered how #TheResistance has organized against Reed, Here’s how liberal activists astroturfed town hall protests against Rep. Tom Reed (#NY23).

Reed is in his element in these townhalls, mixing it up with “Extreme Ithaca Liberals” who inevitably show up even outside Ithaca.

When Ithacans mock the conservative base of the district, it only helps Reed. At Reed’s townhall in Ithaca in March 2017, a lone Trump supporter was heckled:

[The speaker later contacted me to clarify that while he didn’t support Trump in the primaries unlike Reed, he supported Trump in the general election.]

Reed is considered “safe” by Cook Political Report for 2018, but he’s not taking any chances. Ballotpedia has more on how the race is shaping up.

Earlier this year Reed reinvigorated his “Extreme Ithaca Liberal” campaign, as part of a broader push focusing on 2nd Amendment rights. In this District, there is intense hatred (outside Ithaca) for NY’s SAFE act, which imposes strict and often bizarre gun control requirements. Particularly after the Parkland shooting, liberal challengers to Reed are calling for more gun control, but Reed is standing firm on the issue.

This is not new for Reed. This 2016 campaign ad focused on 2nd Amendment rights:

Ithaca.com reported in March 2018 about the revival of the Extreme Ithaca Liberal theme:

Despite just three out seven Democratic candidates for Congress claiming ties to the City of Ithaca, the campaign to re-elect the incumbent, Tom Reed, has lumped them all into a single category: “Ithaca Liberal.”

This week, the congressman’s re-election campaign, Tom Reed for Congress revived an old campaign-related website, ExtremeIthacaLiberal.com, accompanied by a new campaign video railing against the congressman’s prospective opponents’ stances on the Republican-led federal tax plan, of which Reed was a key player in crafting. The website takes its name from a trope first used by the campaign in 2014 when Reed tied the term to Tompkins County legislator Martha Robertson, who was running against him at the time. The phrase was also employed in Reed’s 2016 campaign against Democrat John Plumb, who received a large proportion of his funds raised from donors in Ithaca and Tompkins County.

Though the majority of candidates are not from Ithaca (candidates Ian Golden, Linda Andrei and Tracy Mitrano all claim ties to the largely-Democratic city), Reed’s team states that the term is more about tying the candidates’ respective ideologies to the left-leaning tendencies of Ithaca, which is consistently rated as one of the “most liberal cities” in the nation and was a hotbed of supporters for progressive candidate Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primaries, won by Hillary Clinton.

“We believe that extreme Ithaca liberal is an ideology embraced by all of our Democratic opponents and is out of touch with the majority in our communities,” Nicholas Weinstein, Campaign Manager for Tom Reed for Congress, said in an email to The Ithaca Times. “Tom Reed is standing for our values and we will continue working to earn support from voters across the entire 23rd Congressional District.”

I first became aware of the renewed campaign theme when I saw an “Extreme Ithaca Liberal” sponsored ad for Reed mistakenly linking to the url extremeithacaliberals.com (plural), instead of extremeithacaliberal.com (singular). When I clicked on it, it turned out that someone had taken the url and linked it to the anti-gun group Everytown in order to hijack traffic intended for Reed’s extremeithacaliberal.com website:

When you click on the “learn more” it directs to this:

https://everytown.org/

Whoever did this — probably an extreme Ithaca liberal — thinks they are being sly, but in fact this shows how out of touch Reed’s opponents are with the District.

I reached out to the Reed campaign for comment about Reed’s opponents grabbing the extremeithacaliberals.com url, and received the following statement:

“The URL they selected is appropriate because our opponents’ position on guns is extreme,” said Nicholas Weinstein, Campaign Manager for Tom Reed for Congress. “Extreme Ithaca Liberal is an ideology that our opponents have embraced with positions on policy, such as restricting our Second Amendment rights, that are out of touch with the values of our district. Extreme Ithaca Liberal isn’t defined by geography. Tom Reed is standing for our values and for the hardworking families we care about. We are committed to fairly representing and remaining accessible to all of our constituents, and will continue working to earn support from voters across the entire 23rd Congressional District.”

Here’s the same sponsored ad I saw, with the corrected url:

There are many other ads, images and videos for each of the 6 potential Democrat candidates at the Extreme Ithaca Liberal website, and Twitter account.

This video has been running on Facebook:

The group of potential challengers to Reed doesn’t strike me as very impressive. Whether they live in Ithaca or not, they all seem like, um, extreme Ithaca liberals. Reed early on is defining the Democrat field, and it’s likely to be effective once again.