Samara "Sam" Barend was the 2004 Democratic Party nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives for the 29th Congressional district of New York State. She lost with 41 percent of the vote against Conservative Mark Assini and the winner, Republican Randy Kuhl, in the race to succeed retiring Republican Congressman Amo Houghton.
At 26 years old, Barend would have been the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Barend, who had never run for public office before, raised $627,952 in her contest against Randy Kuhl, a Republican state senator who served in the NY State Assembly and Senate for more than 25 years. The heavily Republican nature of the 29th district, covering the Southern Tier in rural upstate New York, worked against her.
Barend was a featured candidate in several major Internet sources including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's blog, The Stakeholder and on the website of ActBlue, the non-profit "527" political committee that supports Democratic candidates.
Prior to the campaign, Barend was best known for her work in spearheading the campaign to bring a major interstate highway, Interstate 86, to the "Southern Tier" area of New York state, in an attempt to revitalize the lagging economy of the region. Barend was a college student at the time and had worked previously as an intern for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. She later worked as Statewide Neighborhood program director for Hillary Clinton's first US Senate campaign.
Barend grew up in Vestal. She has an older sister Beth, who is a science teacher in Indiana. She also has an older brother Dave, who is an appellate criminal defense attorney in the Boston area.
According to an article in the August[year missing] edition of Harvard Kennedy School's monthly magazine, "At 19, she undertook a long-dormant plan to convert New York State Route 17 into Interstate 86. At 22, she founded Minds of Steel, a non-profit organization that promoted the benefit of physical fitness in addressing mental illness."
From 2005-2008, Barend was the governmental affairs director for engineering and consulting firm STV Group, Inc. and director of her nonprofit Minds of Steel in Vestal. In 2008, Barend was appointed Executive Director of the New York State Asset Maximization (SAM) Commission which was tasked to identify specific public private partnerships for the State. Barend is currently Senior Vice President & Development Director of Public-Private Partnerships for AECOM Capital. Barend has an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania with an individualized major in governing complex organizations (1999) and a Master's in Public Policy from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government (2004). Barend was named a member of the 1999 USA TODAY All-USA Academic Team.
In 2015, Barend was named to the Vestal Central School District Hall of Fame.
- "The Races in New York: Who Won Where". New York Times. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
- "Total Raised and Spent, 2004 Race: New York District 29". OpenSecrets.org. Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
- "NY-29: Sam Barend". The Stakeholder. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
- Paur, Kathy. "Inspiring Women". ActBlue. Retrieved 24 January 2012.