After months of hints, New York state Assemblyman Pete Lopez officially announced his candidacy for the 19th Congressional District seat being vacated by Chris Gibson on Monday. Lopez joins a list of hopefuls eyeing the 2016 elections.
Gibson, a Republican, announced he would leave Congress after three terms to ponder a possible gubernatorial run in 2018. Lopez is seeking the Republican and Conservative nods and is busy laying out what he calls a "grassroots" campaign.
Frequently mentioned as a likely candidate, Lopez has been subject to news stories for months about his intentions, even interviewed extensively on WAMC in October about a run. The Times Union wondered, quote, "Why he waited more than a month before making the formal announcement isn’t clear." "I wish the Times Union had called me. I would have told them part of my hesitation was one not of hesitation but a deliberate process, the 2015 election season was in full swing. I didn't feel it was appropriate to be in the middle of that when voters and candidates had to undertake the important and necessary elections of 2015."
The 54-year-old Schoharie resident has represented the 102nd Assembly district since 2006. He joins a field of Republican rivals: Dutchess County businessman Andrew Heaney portrays himself as a "political outsider" who has never run for political office. "Someone who believes that Washington is broken and that the only to fix it is get rid of the career politicians that are gumming up the works, and bringing people with practical experiences, people who are citizen-legislators, people like Chris Gibson, and I believe in this country. I believe in it's future. And I know that with the right people and the right ideas, we can restore our economy here in the 19th and restore it across the country."
Heaney and Lopez agree Gibson has set the bar high for constituent services, and both aspire to continue that practice if elected.
Lopez was once an aide to 2006 gubernatorial candidate John Faso. Faso, of Columbia County, said on "The Jewish View," a local cable television program, he's running for Gibson's seat because the country is headed in the wrong direction: "We don't have enough growth. It's affecting us domestically. It's adversely affecting our financial condition as a country. Every man, woman and child in America owes $50,000 dollars as their share of the national debt. It's not sustainable. If we don't get more growth and if we don't fix our tax and regulatory impediments to that growth, we're gonna be constrained into a very different country. Our children and grandchildren will have a less prosperous future than we had."
Also in the GOP lineup: Robert Bishop of Delaware County.
On the Democratic side, John Patrick Kehoe of Ulster County and Ulster County Executive Mike Hein are possible standard-bearers.