For months, Democrats targeted New York’s 19th Congressional district as they campaigned to take control of the House. Late last night, they claimed victory as Democrat Antonio Delgado defeated freshman Republican John Faso. It was a hotly contested race in an 11-county swing district that had the nation’s attention.
Delgado delivered his victory speech at the Senate Garage in Kingston after Faso called to concede.
“This is a new day for New York 19,” said Delgado.
Delgado won a seven-way Democratic primary in June to face Faso, and also faced ads that took aim at his short-lived rap career, leading to allegations against Faso and Republican campaign and political action committees of racism and bigotry. Delgado, of Rhinebeck, told supporters Tuesday night that he will represent all of the district.
“And no matter our political differences, I will always serve with integrity, accountability, responsibility and a whole lot of love,” Delgado said.
Michelle Hinchey, daughter of the late Democratic Congressman Maurice Hinchey, campaigned with Delgado down the home stretch, appearing with former Vice President Joe Biden a few weeks earlier in the same spot where Delgado declared victory. After Delgado’s win, Hinchey says she was thinking of her father.
“And I know that if he was here, he would be ecstatic about this. I mean, Antonio is someone who comes from the same cloth. He understands what we need. He understands how government should work and why it should work for the people,” says Hinchey. “And it is, again, just really exciting that we have someone who can now kind of follow in those footsteps and, again, I’m biased; those are very big shoes to fill.”
Other big shoes to fill are those of a former Democratic president — Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Delgado said he visited the FDR site in Hyde Park Election Day to gain perspective, and closed his speech with a quote from FDR.
“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough to those who have too little,” Delgado said. “This election was also a test of our progress. And the results here in New York 19 are clear. We deserve better and we can be better. The work begins now. Thank you, and God bless.”
Catskill resident Andrea Mitchell became a known name in the district soon after Congressman Faso took office in 2017. She had attended a rally and told Faso she was concerned about losing health insurance given her pre-existing conditions. Faso gave her a hug and assurances that such would not be the case, and it was caught on video. The exchange thrust Mitchell into the national media spotlight. Faso voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Delgado says health care is a top priority, and Mitchell appeared in ads and on the campaign trail for Delgado.
“I’m so forever thankful to the people of New York 19 just for standing up for health care, for standing with me and standing by me through this entire process,” Mitchell says. “And I know that there was more than health care on the line tonight, but I feel such a strong victory and to stand up to people who will be dishonest to us and who won’t treat us fairly. And I think that’s so important in today’s society.”
Polls since late summer showed the race to be a tossup. In the end, Delgado garnered a bit more than 49 percent of the vote, or 132,001 votes, to Faso’s nearly 46.5 percent, or 124,408 votes, according to unofficial results. Pawling resident Bill Owens was decked out in patriotic garb and speaks to his priority for change.
“Accountability. Getting those in power that aren’t doing right to be held to account. That’s what’s broken right now,” says Owens. “You have three branches of government and they’re not doing what they’re supposed to do. So I think this is going to be a good step toward getting that back into effect. So, that’s my hope anyway.”
The site of Delgado’s victory gathering — the Senate Garage in Kingston — has been an assembly point for Democrats. In May of 2017, 18th District Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, who won re-election to a fourth term, held a town hall concerning the American Health Care Act, after Faso would not.