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GOP Primary: Faso Wins 19th CD

Republicans have made their choice in New York’s 19th Congressional District: Former New York state Assembly Minority Leader John Faso has topped Andrew Heaney.

Gibson announced he would not seek another term; the Kinderhook Republican plans to take a teaching role at Williams College in Massachusetts. That opened the door for strong contenders from both sides of the aisle: Republican John Faso and Democrat Zephyr Teachout both previously made runs for governor. Faso's 2006 candidacy was dwarfed by a then-immensely popular Eliot Spitzer. In 2014 Teachout snagged roughly a third of the vote in a primary challenge against Andrew Cuomo. Both Faso and Teachout held commanding leads in a Time Warner-Siena College poll that was released Monday, correctly predicting the outcome

"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you. We've just won a great victory here tonight."  This time a winner, Faso spoke with confidence at American Glory Restaurant in Hudson.    "I'm trying to address the real issues that are affecting people in their pocketbooks, in their wallets and around their kitchen table when they decide whether or not they can afford to stay here in New York state or whether they have to beat a path elsewhere."

Faso, tagged “the ultimate insider” by Teachout, addressed his foe as he exclaimed he’s all about representing his district.   "I've lived here 33 years, Mary Frances and I have built our lives and our family, this is our version of the American Dream here. Our Democratic opponent, she just parachuted in from Brooklyn, and she's just established residency in this district in January. I think the people of this district would expect that a representative of this district should be from the district, should know the district, should have lived in the district, should have raised a family in the district, should have some connection to the district, other than just simply saying they wanna represent it."

There was a minor voting snafu in Columbia County, where several hundred ballots mistakenly carried the name of a third candidate:  Bob Bishop withdrew from the race in early May and threw his support behind Faso. His name was name supposed to have been removed from the ballot weeks ago. The Heaney camp demanded Columbia County ballots be impounded. Hand-counted or not, there aren't enough to make any difference.

Heaney did not respond to requests for comment. A campaign statement says in part, "We desperately need to change the culture in Washington and I want to wish John well in his next challenge."  Heaney is said to have spoken with Faso by telephone Tuesday night.

Greg Fingar chairs the Columbia County Republican Committee. "John's a true representative of the district and Columbia County particularly. John introduced me to Chris Gibson six years ago when Chris first ran. We were so excited to have our first Congressman actually from Columbia County, and I think John shares a lot of the same values as Chris."

In one of relatively few competitive districts, the Faso-Teachout race is likely to garner national interest this fall.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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