IF ANYONE IN THE 19th Congressional District has not heard about the race between incumbent Congressman John Faso and his main opponent, Antonio Delgado, it’s most likely someone isn’t going to vote in next week’s general election.
Mr. Faso, 66, a Republican who lives in Kinderhook, won election to his first term by a comfortable margin two years ago. But he has been dogged by protests around the district since taking office and early in his term in the 19th CD the mass media and pollsters flagged it as one of the districts where Democrats might have a chance of flipping the district this year.
The district covers all of Columbia County and all or parts of 10 other counties in the Hudson Valley and Catskills. Voters supported President Obama in 2008 and 2012 but went for Donald Trump in 2016.
Mr. Delgado, 41, a Democrat who lives in Rhinebeck, won a drawn-out primary last spring that left Democrats more unified and eager to support their ticket.
Mr. Faso has a long political resume that includes the state Assembly and service as Assembly minority leader. He was also the GOP candidate for governor in 2006 and a lawyer in private practice. He earned his law degree from Georgetown.
Mr. Delgado has had a successful corporate law career and before that spent time as a rap artist. He earned his law degree from Harvard after he was a Rhodes Scholar.
In the last two congressional elections Democratic candidates were faulted for their lack of ties to the district. That’s gotten less traction this year because Mr. Delgado grew up in Schenectady and attended Colgate University in upstate New York.
Mr. Faso grew up on Long Island. He now knows plenty about this region after living here for decades but he didn’t know much when he moved to run for office.
Mr. Delgado has proposed a government healthcare insurance option that would fix some of the flaws in Obamacare and some of the intentional damage done by the GOP majority in Congress.
Mr. Faso complains that his votes for a Republican plan to replace Obamacare have been distorted. But as he explains it the House bill would have weakened insurance coverage or temporarily denied benefits. That was acceptable because it wouldn’t affect people in New York and would impact “very few” people elsewhere in the country. But shouldn’t federal legislation be what’s good for the whole nation? He didn’t like it when the Trump tax law hit New York harder than other states.
Mr. Faso says he has worked in a bipartisan manner. He has. But what does it say about the bipartisan label when you vote with the president 89% of the time?
Mr. Faso says that he’s worked with farmers on addressing dairy prices and milk supply. That’s true. Mr. Delgado says it’s also true most of the benefits of the Farm Bill go to agri-business and restrictions on pesticides have been rolled back despite health concerns.
Mr. Faso speaks with pride about the work he’s done with veterans and about his contributions to the opioid abuse response bill the president signed last week. So why has he allowed his name to be associated with racist campaign publicity that has tainted his reelection effort?
He says it’s all about Mr. Delgado’s socially and politically unacceptable the rap lyrics. Let’s agree that old white men like Mr. F. and me don’t listen to a lot of rap. We lack any context for evaluating it aside from irritation, fear and ignorance. Congressman, the culture has moved beyond us.
But even if Mr. Faso truly believes it’s only a matter of what Mr. Delgado said, how can that possibly justify his silence about the racist imagery in these ads that play on the ugliest of stereotypes. Yes, the ads were created by outside groups he doesn’t control. So where was the simple decency of a statement deploring them and apologizing to his opponent that his name was associated with such despicable attacks?
Our democracy survives on slender threads and John Faso has weakened them more than he can imagine. His constituents needed moral leadership and he gave us blame, saying he was the victim when he was challenged about the ads.
Now it’s time for voters to speak by choosing a new representative in Congress and supporting his efforts to repair the damage and move ahead. Please vote for Antonio Delgado November 6.