Primaries about to winnow House race

(Additional reporting by MATTHEW HAMILTON of Times Union follows)
GHENT–Registered Democrats and Republicans will have a chance to vote in their party’s primary election Tuesday, June 28, which will determine the candidates for Congress from the 19th district. The seat is open because Republican Chris Gibson is not seeking a fourth term in the House of Representatives.
There are two candidates in each party’s primary, Republicans John Faso of Kinderhook and Andrew Heaney of Millbrook in Dutchess County, and, for the Democrats, Zephyr Teachout of Dover Plains in Dutchess County and Will Yandik of the Town of Livingston.
The 19th District covers all of Columbia County and all or parts of 10 other counties in the Mid-Hudson Valley and Catskills. Columbia County voters registered in each major party
comprise no more than about 10% of each party’s total number of voters across the district.
It’s been an expensive race so far. The June 8 financial disclosure filings by the candidates indicate that they had, collectively, raised a total of nearly $4.6 million, which doesn’t include the money they will raise in the last three weeks of the campaign.
The Republican primary has been the more visible contest to those not engaged in politics. Mr. Faso, a lawyer, the former minority leader of the state Assembly and the GOP candidate for governor, and Mr. Heaney, a businessman who led the expansion of a family-owned heating oil cooperative, have aired ads attacking each other on Albany TV channels.
In the Democratic primary race Ms. Teachout, an associate professor of law and activist, gained
prominence in 2014 she ran against Governor Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary. She lost her challenge but won a majority of votes in this county.
Mr. Yandik currently serves on the Livingston Town Council. He helps run his family’s farm in Livingston, is a former journalist, has been engaged in regional environmental issues and is the first Democrat appointed deputy town supervisor.
More about the candidates and their positions on issues can be found at their websites:
•Zephyr Teachout
•Will Yandik
•John Faso
•Andrew Heaney
Polls open Tuesday, June 28 from noon to 9 p.m. The official list of polling places in Columbia County appears on Page 9 in this issue.
What follows are accounts of two cable TV debates between each pair of candidates written by Times Union reporter Mathew Hamilton and published in that paper last week.
Democrats debate
Reprinted with permission from Times Union
ALBANY–A Time Warner Cable News debate between the two Democrats running for the 19th
Congressional District seat on Wednesday June 15 was largely a showcase of similarities between the aspiring congressional representatives.
Will Yandik and Zephyr Teachout provided similar takes on the need for domestic protections against terrorism in the wake of the Orlando shooting massacre, the necessity for the federal government to protect LGBT rights, the need for farmworkers to be able to organize and even the person who most embodies New York values–former Rep. Maurice Hinchey.
While a spot of contention arose on public financing of elections (Ms. Teachout supports it; Mr. Yandik opposes it), largely the difference between the two is how they plan to achieve results on multiple policies.
Ms. Teachout brought questions of more affordable healthcare, solar energy and gun control back to the need to take on the big corporations that she sees as owning the discussion in Congress.
“The practical thing that we can do right now, if we are willing, to take on the corporate gun lobby is
close what some people call the ‘terror gap,'” she said of Orlando shooter Omar Mateen’s ability to
obtain an assault-style rifle used to carry out the mass killing. “Basically there is a no-fly list, but not a no-buy list, and we need a no-buy list. There is no way that this shooter should have ever had any gun.”
Mr. Yandik took issues from a more personal place. On guns specifically, he emphasized his upbringing in a home where a firearm was an unemotional item while also pointedly saying that the country has a problem with gun violence. “If we’re going to get an assault weapons ban passed in the United States House, I think we need to make sure that that bill focuses specifically on the high-capacity elements of that law,” he said. “I think in order to get that passed in the House of Representatives, which is a much heavier lift, we have to strip out the so-called cosmetic features, such as pistol grips and stock holes and other cosmetic features.”
The two staunchly advocated for assistance for Hoosick Falls as that community grapples with a water contamination crisis and general protection of fresh water. Both called for hearings at the federal level, with Mr. Yandik saying state-level hearings–which have not yet happened despite a vociferous outcry—are most appropriate.
The debate was recorded on afternoon of June 15 and aired that evening.
Republicans debate
Reprinted with permission from Times Union
ALBANY–In a Time Warner Cable News debate that at times turned heated, Republican 19th Congressional District candidates John Faso and Andrew Heaney on Thursday, June 16 found common ground on the wrongheadedness of the Obama administration’s approach to healthcare and overseas terror threats.
But that was about it.
In the hour-long taped debate that aired that evening, the two went toe-to-toe regarding campaign
finance regulations and reforms that devolved into mudslinging attacks that have increased as the GOP primary race to replace Congressman Chris Gibson has worn on. Mr. Faso, a former assemblyman and gubernatorial candidate from Kinderhook, said the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision was correct because at its core it was about free speech. However, he said he would advocate for the immediate disclosure of independent expenditure spending in an effort to help make more transparent shadowy entities that pump millions into campaigns.
Mr. Heaney, a businessman from Dutchess County, took a different tack, saying the court’s decision was incorrect, before tying Mr. Faso to what he sees as more of the same Washington
behavior that has led to campaigns costing multi-millions of dollars.

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