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Patrick Madden, a computer scientist who hopes to bring an 'engineering mind-s
Source: Melissa Healy




With his chunky black-framed glasses, close-cropped hair and graying beard, Binghamton University computer scientist Patrick Madden gives off a Jeff Goldblum vibe. He designs mobile apps for fun, and teaches a graduate seminar in computer science theory.

“I love my job, the students I teach,” Madden said. “I’ve got a pretty good life.”

All was going well, he said, until the election of Donald Trump. That event has pushed him off the sidelines and into politics.

In May, he announced his bid to challenge Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney, a freshman who swept into office on Trump’s coattails.

Rep. Tenney’s seat is one of 59 the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has targeted for turnover in 2018. And it’s one of 10 Republican House seats to which the National Republican Congressional Committee has announced it will devote additional fundraising and organizational assistance.

In short, it’s a battleground seat.

Madden said he’s never considered himself “hyperpartisan,” but as the details of the Trump administration’s policy agenda emerged, he decided he could not “sit and watch while we spiral down the drain.”

Madden expected his wife, Laura Lee Intscher, to try to talk him out of running. Instead, she told him he “absolutely had to do it.” His daughters, ages 14 and 17, are less enthusiastic, but have grudgingly climbed on board.

“They understand that sometimes you have to do the right thing, and that’s not the same as the easy thing,” Madden said. At the same time, he hopes he can shield his girls from the spotlight: He doesn’t want his choice to make their lives “excessively weird.”

Madden has had some early success raising campaign funds on the Crowdpac website and attracting the notice of political professionals. National media strategist Joe Trippi has signed on to help his campaign, and he’s hired a finance director, a team to pull together mailers and campaign literature, and a company to oversee his paperwork and payroll.

Madden is a believer in the “engineering mind-set” that dissects the problems, assesses the options and works toward a solution. He compares that with the training lawyers bring to public office: “to argue a position.”

This contrast, he said, sets him up as the kind of get-it-done candidate voters want in New York’s upstate 22nd District, which lies between Albany and Syracuse.
Madden with would-be constituents at Pride Palooza in Binghamton, N.Y. (Laura Lee Intscher)
Madden with would-be constituents at Pride Palooza in Binghamton, N.Y. (Laura Lee Intscher)

“I’ve never met a lawyer who said, ‘Hey, you made a good point, I’m going to change my mind.’ It’s just not what they’re trained to do,” Madden said. “I have been wrong before and it’s not about me winning and someone else losing. It’s about getting to the right answer.”

There are other ways Madden thinks his science and engineering experience has equipped him well for public office.

“I’m sure the first attack will be that I’m a liberal professor who does nothing,” he said. “But I’ll have plenty of people from the chip industry who will vouch for me that I solve problems. It’s not hot air. This is my community: We look at real-world problems and come up with solutions. Then, they get manufactured and sold.”

One possible indication Madden is being taken seriously as a candidate? In recent days, he’s gotten a spate of warnings that someone is trying to crack his password. Perhaps Moscow is already on to him.



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