Paul Tonko To Debut Fresh Bernie Sanders Makeover for Midterm Elections

By Leslie Carp

Published May 7th, 2017

Artists' representation of what Congressman Paul Tonko would look like if he began dressing
as Bernie Sanders.

ALBANY — Congressman Paul Tonko has decided to go “Full Bernie” in the months leading up to the 2018 midterm election.

Tonko — who has one of the most liberal voting records in Congress — will be retiring his signature round metal-framed glasses, deliberate demeanor and well-manicured horseshoe hair, and instead will sport thick cats-eye glasses and wild hair, paying homage to fashion icon Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“We think this image makeover will guarantee him the vote when the midterms come around,” explained Hefe Weiss Ng, a public relations consultant hired by Tonko’s office to oversee the metamorphosis. “In addition to the physical changes, we have a team of speech therapists coaching him to speak more forcefully, and to only show his bottom teeth when he does.”

Tonko’s current manner of speaking aligns more closely with Rick Steves than Sanders. A staffer observed that pushing the congressman to yell and pop invisible balloons with his index finger has been a difficult, but ultimately empowering experience.

While the Democrats are excited to unveil the cool new Paul Tonko, his opponents are rather skeptical. Some are even claiming Tonko is trying to trick voters.

“I think he’s taking advantage of his constituents by pretending to be Bernie,” said Kipland Trinitrotoluene of Albany, whose coal-stacked truck sports a “Hillary For Prison ‘16” sticker.

“There are tons of people in District 20 who can’t tell two old white guys apart,” Trinitrotoluene said. “Ask any of those Chinese kids from California who go to RPI and vote absentee.”

A survey by the Smudge determined roughly 40 percent of RPI students struggled to differentiate Tonko and Sanders in a side-by-side photo comparison. When shown a photo of the “new” Tonko, the percentage of students who could not tell them apart jumped to 85 percent.

Said sophomore engineering student Eugene Wu: “This is just the same guy wearing a different suit.”


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