The race for New York’s 19th Congressional district seat is one of the most closely watched in the country. The candidates are giving voters a clear choice, as Republican John Faso and Democrat Zephyr Teachout stand on the opposite ends of several issues. They’ve also given voters a lot of face time, having participated in a number of debates and forums.
Faso and Teachout are nearing the end of their campaigns in the quintessential swing district. It’s a race to replace retiring Republican Congressman Chris Gibson, Faso’s Kinderhook neighbor and supporter. Teachout, a new resident of the sprawling 11-county district who has Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ support, has been endorsed by The New York Times, which calls her the better candidate for this era of gridlock and disillusionment. She also has the endorsement of The Poughkeepsie Journal. Faso, the former state Assembly Minority Leader, has been endorsed by the New York Post, which calls him the far more serious and experienced candidate. He’s also endorsed by the Albany Times Union. Faso, who from day one said the race would be close, talks about what he’s doing these final days of the campaign.
“We’re working hard, just trying to contact every voter we can and respond to questions from folks in the media and citizens who have questions about issues,” Faso says. “But I’m optimistic but not overconfident. It’s going to be a close race.”
Here’s Teachout on her chances.
“I’m feeling very good about it,” Teachout says. “We’ve got so much momentum.”
And Faso on his.
“I’m not going to speculate. I think it’s a close race, but I feel confident that we’ll be winning on election night,” Faso says. “And whatever happens, I’ll accept the verdict of the voters.”
Teachout, whose platform includes rooting out political corruption, fighting big money and protecting the environment, speaks to what she sees along the campaign trail.
“What I hear everywhere that I go in this district is people really just want Congress to work again. There’s an incredible, and it’s across party lines, an incredible hunger for politics that is positive, that is people’s voices and not big corporations, that is actually focused on solutions,” Teachout says. “And some of that reflects the anger that we hear that people are really mad about big money and really mad about being shut out, but there’s also a deep source of hope.”
Faso is running on a platform centered on reform to help small businesses, including simplifying the tax code, ending corporate welfare and easing regulatory burdens. Faso, who ran against Democrat Eliot Spitzer for governor in 2006, characterizes the campaign.
“It’s definitely one of the most contentious races in the country,” Faso says. “I think, candidly, my opponent has been playing fast and loose with the truth. She has not been truthful about her attacks on me and the negative ads that she and the Democratic Campaign Committer have run have just been outright fantasy and fraud and almost libelous. So, but, outside of that, it’s gone well.”
Teachout, who authored a book on corruption and ran against Governor Andrew Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic primary, attributes the contentious campaign to Citizens United, which she wants overturned and which allows for unlimited corporate spending in political campaigns.
Teachout is a Fordham University law professor who moved to Dutchess County last year, much to the criticism of Faso.
“And I really believe in representation. It’s this old-fashioned idea but it’s a powerful idea that, even if you disagree on something, everybody’s voice matters equally,” Teachout says. “And the job of a representative is to carry that voice to Congress.”
A Time Warner Cable News/Siena College poll out September 27 showed Faso with a 1-point lead. Other polls in recent days show Teachout with a small lead.