“After almost 12 years in Congress, today is my last day,” he said on the House floor. “It has been an honor to serve with you all from both parties. I love this institution as it still exemplifies what is best about our government: We are the people’s house. While I am proud that we put people before politics, there is much more to do. I am leaving to continue that work and hope to have a greater impact on our country.”
Sources told The Buffalo News that Reed resigned to join Prime Policy Group, a bipartisan public policy group founded by longtime Republican lobbyist Charlie Black.
Reed’s move will inject even more uncertainty into an uncertain political season where candidates in New York don’t yet know what districts they will be running in.
A special election likely will be held to replace Reed in the Southern Tier’s 23rd District – which might not even exist once a court-appointed expert draws a map that shrinks the number of congressional districts in the state from 27 to 26, as called for after the 2020 census.
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And a special election poses special complications for Rep. Claudia Tenney, the Utica-area Republican who already announced plans to run for Reed’s seat long before a court case upended the redistricting process in New York.
The Steuben County Republican chairman, Joe Sempolinski of Canisteo – who had announced his candidacy for the Southern Tier seat only to back away after Tenney said she would run for it – followed Reed’s announcement with one of his own.
“I’m in for the special election in NY23,” Sempolinski, a former Reed aide and close ally, said on Twitter.
Reed is the former GOP chair of the House Problem Solvers Caucus. A genial lawmaker well-liked by colleagues, Reed was seen as a potential candidate for governor this year until a former lobbyist told the Washington Post that he had touched her inappropriately in a Minneapolis bar in 2017.
Shortly after that story broke in March 2021, Reed announced that he would not run for re-election. Long known for his plentiful town halls across his district, Reed recently appeared to hint at his coming departure with a “farewell tour” of such meetings.
And in his speech on the House floor, Reed spoke as the sort of unifying figure that he often tried to be in the midst of a harshly partisan era.
“I believe the current focus on extremism demands us to heed the words of Abraham Lincoln uttered years ago as we face a similar threat to our existence today: ‘A house divided cannot stand!’ ” Reed said. “But I add: ‘A house united will not fail.’ It is time for petty political posturing to end. Leadership must emerge and in God I trust. His divine protection will extend again if only we acknowledge and accept His love and the divine spark that exists in each of us as citizens of our great nation.”
He also thanked his family and the staffers who worked for him over the years.
“My most profound appreciation is for the people of Western New York,” Reed added. “Thank you for giving a country lawyer, the youngest of 12, raised by a single mother whose father passed away when he was only 2, the honor of representing you at the highest level. Only in America can such a dream come true.”
This is a developing story.