Costly race for House seat draws attention

GHENT–Republican John Faso and Democratic Zephyr Teachout are running to represent the 19th Congressional District this November 8. The current congressman, Chris Gibson, a Republican, decided not run for a fourth two-year term.

The 19th district covers all of Columbia County and all or parts of 10 other counties, including Ulster, Rensselaer, Greene and Dutchess.

Columbia County is the fifth largest in the district in voter registration; Ulster County has the largest number. In terms of party affiliation, Republicans have a slight advantage in active voter enrollment district-wide, but voters who have not enrolled in a political party comprise a group almost equal in size to the major parties.

The race has drawn the attention of the national media. It’s also been an expensive race, with general election spending by the two candidates totaling $4.5 million as of last month (see sidebar).

Both candidates were sent candidate questionnaires from The Columbia Paper. Their answers and biographic information are below.

John J. Faso

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John Faso

John Faso, 64, lives in the Village of Kinderhook with his wife Mary Frances. He is a registered Republican who has been endorsed by Republican, Conservative, Independence and Reform parties in this congressional race.

He was in the New York State Assembly from 1986 to 2002, serving as Assembly Minority Leader from 1998 to 2002.

Born in Massapequa, Mr. Faso has a BS degree in history and political science from SUNY Brockport and a JD from Georgetown University Law Center. Until 2002, Mr. Faso was a lawyer with Rapport, Meyers in Hudson. In 2003 he moved to Manatt Phelps & Phillips in Albany. Since 2014 his has run his own law office in Kinderhook.

Mr. Faso is a former member of both the Kinderhook and county Republican Committees. He was chairman of the Third Judicial District nominating convention. He is a member of the St. John the Baptist Church in Valatie and a former board member of the Columbia Memorial Hospital Foundation.

He also served on the board of the Rockefeller Institute of Government. For three years, he was a member of the control board that worked to fix the financial and managerial issues in the City of Buffalo and its school system. He is also a former fellow of the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation.

In his candidate profile, Mr. Faso wrote:

“I’m running for Congress because America, and Upstate New York, are in the midst of an economic crisis. Stagnant or declining wages, job losses and exorbitant property taxes are driving people away from our region.

I’m running with a plan to simplify the tax code, grow small business investment and end the regulatory nightmare that burdens business and destroys communities.

We must address the national debt and the annual budget deficits at the federal level. In the NYS Legislature, I crafted a state budget that eliminated a $5 billion deficit, without raising taxes: the first state budget in 52 years to actually reduce spending. I also led efforts to create the STAR program and education and property tax reform.

In Congress I’ll work hard to help the nation change direction. But change based on a deep understanding of this district, its people and its economy.”

More information about the candidate can be found at https://johnfaso.com/.

Zephyr Teachout

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Zephyr Teachout

Democrat Zephyr Teachout, 46, lives in Clinton Hollow in the Town of Clinton in Dutchess County with her husband, Nick Juliusburger. She has been endorsed by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Ms. Teachout was born in Seattle but grew up in Vermont.

She is associate professor of Law at Fordham University. She has degrees from Yale and Duke University School of Law.

Ms. Teachout ran against Governor Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary in 2014. According to her candidate profile, she worked with community leaders to stop “dangerous pipelines, fighting back against oppressive high-stake testing in our public schools, and cleaning up corruption in Albany and Washington, DC.” She is also a distance runner and has run in several local 5K charity races.

In her candidate statement, Ms. Teachout wrote:

“I’m running for Congress because I love this country, but I’m worried about it. We’re at a crisis point where people feel shut out of the political process, and we need to renew our democracy.

I am running to support local farming, broadband, clean water and a Congress that works for all of us and represents people, not just the wealthy and powerful.

I’m an independent person–I’ve always stood up for people over political parties or big corporations. I’ve worked with grassroots organizations on renewable energy and changing the way we fund elections, and in Congress would lift up the great work of local leaders, like those in the Columbia Land Conservancy, to support economic development.

The people of Columbia County have a clear choice in this election. John Faso has been in politics his whole life, as a very conservative assemblyman then a lobbyist for the last 10 years, representing pipeline companies and payday lenders. I promise to be an independent fighter bringing energy and fresh ideas, and always putting people first.”

More information is at http://www.zephyrteachoutforcongress.com/.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Election Day, November 8.

For more information about where to vote, contact the Columbia County Board of Elections, 401 State Street, Hudson 12534 at 518 828-3115, or visit the Columbia County website www.columbiacountyny.com for a link to the Board of Elections website.

This house seat is expensive

IN AN OCTOBER 18 STORY in the Times Union reporter Matthew Hamilton wrote that the two candidates had a combined $1.8 million in cash on hand at that point:

“Ms. Teachout had nearly $1.5 million while Mr. Faso has roughly $356,000, according to October quarterly filings with the Federal Election Commission. Ms. Teachout raked in $1.6 million since July and spent more than $1.25 million. Mr. Faso raised roughly $922,000 and spent almost $715,000.

According to ProPublica, $4.5 million has been spent on the general election.

The largest expenditure has come from the pro-Republican super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund, which has dropped $2.7 million on attacks against Ms. Teachout. Other big spenders include the National Republican Congressional Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “

(Reporting reprinted with permission from the Times Union)

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