The congressional candidates for New York’s spotlighted 19th District participated in a forum Thursday that allowed for sharing views with an audience rather than debating one another. Debate has been raging mainly among constituents, often on social media. Among the mainstream party candidates, though, it has been through ads.
The same day four congressional candidates took part in an Ulster County Chamber of Commerce forum, Radio Woodstock WDST president Gary Chetkof issued a letter to listeners, saying that after extensive conversation with FCC attorneys, station management decided to discontinue advertisements from the National Republican Congressional Committee that attack Democratic candidate Antonio Delgado.
“In 25 years of owning this radio station, I’ve never had to deal with something like this,” Chetkof says. “And I think it’s just a sign of the times that we’re living in.”
Chetkof’s says the station believes the ads to be highly offensive and factually distorted.
“This was just so offensive to us and our listeners, the question really was do we have the right to not run this being that it’s political speech, and the answer was, yes, that it is not endorsed by a candidate,” says Chetkof. “The obligations for us are to run candidate supported and endorsed ads. And this is a political action committee ad, which is no different than any third party wanting to buy advertising, of which we have the right to decline.”
He says the station is running ads directly from Delgado’s opponent, Congressman John Faso, and that Faso’s ads are issue-oriented and not offensive. Chetkof says the NRCC ads take aim at Delgado’s former rap career and paint the Democrat as anti-American.
An ad released by the Congressional Leadership Fund, a SuperPAC endorsed by House Republican leadership, drew widespread attention over the summer, including from The New York Times, which, in July, published an editorial entitled “John Faso is Race-Baiting His Opponent.” The topic even involved political scientist Dr. Gerald Benjamin at the State University of New York at New Paltz, a WAMC board member and supporter of first-term Republican Congressman John Faso. Benjamin immediately apologized for his comments to the Times, saying he did not have any racist intent. Here’s Delgado after Thursday’s forum on the topic of Republican ads attacking his rap lyrics.
“Mr. Faso has chosen to, with the backing of his corporate interests, about $800,000 or so, turn to baseless, negative attacks. And the fact is, this is why folks are tired of politics, again, not talking about the issues,” says Delgado. “You have folks who’ve come out, whether it was the clergy members, 18 of them, nonpartisan, whether it was local papers, even Dr. Benjamin, his own good friend, has personally, not just publicly, personally reached out to me and apologized for the inappropriateness of this line of attack. Where’s John Faso’s apology?”
Here’s Faso after the forum.
“Well, all I’ve said about his rap career, it wouldn’t matter what the form of the music was, it’s his words. And she should explain whether the political views that he expressed in those words are consistent with where his views are today,” says Faso. “The derogatory comments about women and police, derogatory comments about free enterprise and capitalism. Is that what he believes? says Faso. “Well, we heard today that he wants to raise taxes. He wants to raise taxes on individuals, on small businesses, on large businesses. And I think we have a pretty good indication of what he believes.”
Meantime, Delgado addresses issues such as health care and taxes.
“Mr. Faso didn’t say very much about how he would really help bring down health care costs. He didn’t talk about Medicare negotiating drug prices with big pharma. I did. I spoke about a public option. I spoke about Medicare having negotiating power. That’s a big, big contrast right there,” Delgado says. “We spoke about the tax bill and its impact on our future. He did not answer my question as to whether or not he’s for or against that. I know he voted no, but he seemed to talk very highly of it in his remarks today. I am against the tax bill and what it did to our future. And I think we’ve got to actually use that money to invest in infrastructure, roads, rail broadband access, things of that nature.”
Delgado said during the forum that he wants to repeal the tax bill. Here’s Faso:
“Well, repealing the tax bill would be a disaster because the small businesses, all of whom are represented in that room today, are going to get a 20 percent pass-through credit under the terms of that legislation. That’s really, you talk to any small business and they are really benefitting from that. They like it. It really helps them,” Faso says. “You talk to large businesses that do business abroad, ending the double taxation, as I cited with Apple, is the prime reason why Apple brought $238 billion of foreign-earned profits back to the United States. He would reinstitute a system where we have double taxation.”
19th District Green Party candidate Steve Greenfield says he steers clear of attacks and responds in a measured way, with the facts.
“I don’t enjoy the kind of things that we see in politics today where people are going at each other. And he’s trying to harm America. No, he’s trying to harm America. No, he’s really, really trying to harm America,” Greenfield says. “Let’s just solve our problems. We’re going to compromise on things. Nobody’s going to get exactly what they want but, if we just let these problems continue to fester, then nobody’s getting what they want and especially the American people and the people here in the 19th District.”
“Everyone stop the stupidity,” Neal says.
That’s actor Diane Neal, who is running as an Independent. She said her ads will be positive.
“What they’ve been exposed to so far with current candidates, it’s a lot of negativity, and it’s ridiculous negativity,” says Neal.
A National Republican Congressional Committee spokesperson did not respond in time for this broadcast.