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Delgado-Molinaro Race Could Make NY-19 A National Bellwether In 2022

Congressman Antonio Delgado holds a virtual town hall December 16, 2020
Courtesy of the Office of Congressman Antonio Delgado
Congressman Antonio Delgado holds a virtual town hall December 16, 2020

Although the contours of the district will be changing next year, the race for what is currently New York’s 19th House district seat is taking shape.

The purple district currently stretches from east of Albany south along the border of Massachusetts and Connecticut, west to the Pennsylvania border and north into the Mohawk Valley.

Democrat Antonio Delgado won the seat in 2018, ousting first-term Republican John Faso as control of the House flipped. In 2020, Delgado held off a challenge from Republican Kyle Van De Water, who planned to run again next year before his untimely death in September.

Not long after that, a high-profile name long seen as a possible candidate made it official:

“COVID science has been discarded for partisan politics and power grabs,” Molinaro said. “Public safety threatened by short-sighted polices that undermine law enforcement, threaten victims and witnesses and even hurt the wellbeing of the alleged offenders. An embarrassing and deadly retreat from Afghanistan has made America and New York less safe than any time since 9/11,” he said.

Republican Marc Molinaro kicked off his campaign at a Rhinebeck farm. The Dutchess County Executive, former state Assemblyman and mayor of Tivoli ran for governor in 2018, when he lost to Andrew Cuomo:

“I think that we need problem solvers in New York. I think we need people who understand the very dignity of public service,” Molinaro said during his gubernatorial bid.

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro
Matt Ryan
Marc Molinaro during his 2018 run for governor

Serving on the Agriculture, Small Business and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees, Delgado has presented himself as a hard-working pragmatist. Although he voted to impeach President Trump twice, Delgado stresses his community roots, bipartisan approach and frequent district events.

A spokesperson for Delgado declined to comment on Molinaro’s entry into the race, but the Democrat was asked about 2022 during a WAMC Congressional Corner interview in July.

“I’m just going to focus on the work that I’ve been doing. We’ve covered a lot of ground today when it comes to infrastructure when it comes to broadband. We know that we have a lot of needs and I think for me, my time is best served when I’m thinking about how to deliver for the folks on the ground.”

In its ideological ratings, GovTrack.Us ranksDelgado as one of the most moderate Democrats in the House in this Congress.

“I’m very proud of the fact that we were able to get 10 bills signed into law under the previous administration and already have two bills signed into law this go-around, so my focus is going to stay on the work,” Delgado said in July. “And make sure that we continue to find bipartisan opportunities when we can and make sure that people back home understand that the work really starts and ends with them, and how I’m able to build my relationship with the community, and not with what’s going on in Washington.”

Lee Miringoff is the director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion in Poughkeepsie. He says the district could once again serve as a national bellwether.

An interview with Lee Miringoff of Marist.
An interview with Lee Miringoff of Marist.

“Look, this is a competitive district, and competitive districts attract a lot of attention, particularly with the difference in Congress nationally so slight,” he said. “The hopes of the Republicans regaining control of the Congress could conceivably go through the 19th district in New York.”

Molinaro spoke with WAMC just before launching his latest campaign, and was asked about the potential for another run for president by Donald Trump in 2024.

“Listen, he will make his choices. Our party and the public will express their desire. But I’ll leave that to a more appropriate political time,” he said.

Miringoff says the continued presence of Trump in national politics could be a double-edged sword: energizing some voters, perhaps, while turning off others.

“Would you want Donald Trump to come into the district to campaign for you? I’m not so sure. That might be a very tough calculation and I think Molinaro might want to run as his own person,” Miringoff said.

At the same time, with the president’s party typically in line for losses during the mid-point of his first term, Delgado may also have to play defense on behalf of President Biden — whose approval rating is sagging into the 40s during the latest Washington wars.

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.
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