While the two Republican candidates for the 19th congressional district competing in the noon to 9 p.m. primary election next Tuesday, June 28, were heaving heavy artillery at each other, the two Democrats contesting a primary on the same day have shown enthusiastic politeness in their efforts.
If ideological positions mirror the primaries in the November election, then voters will have a choice between a committed progressive Democrat and a hard-right Republican.
That appears to be so because Democrats Will Yandik, 38, deputy supervisor of Livingston and a farmer, educator and journalist, faces Zephyr Teachout, 44, author and Fordham law professor from Clinton in Dutchess County, have staked out similar positions on the left, with both opposed to fracking and Citizens United and in favor of paid sick and family leave. They support healthcare reform that includes a public option; they want to protect Social Security, reform education, and believe it’s necessary to deal strongly with both pharmaceutical companies and climate change. They sport nuanced differences on gun control, though both see a need for strong curbs. They appear to disagree on public funding for political campaigns with Yandik opposing it and Teachout supporting it.
On the Republican side, the race pits former state Assembly minority leader John Faso, 63, of Kinderhook against Millbrook businessman Andrew Heaney, 45. Amid epithets — invective such as ‘liar,’ ‘millionaire’ (Heaney) and the dreaded tag of ‘lobbyist’ (Faso) — the two hew to the standard of the right, brandishing National Rifle Association credentials (though, post-Orlando, both have said they would support a gun ban for people on terror watch lists), seeking repeal and replacement of Obamacare, and preventing farm workers from forming unions. Both are critical of Barack Obama’s handling of terrorism and foreign policy.
The two Republicans do disagree on campaign financing and the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, with Faso believing it was correct and Heaney believing it was not.
The state elections board records almost 465,000 registered voters in a district roughly the size of Connecticut. Democrats, with 147,235 enrollees, outnumber Republicans by only 2335. Only enrolled party members are allowed to vote in primaries.
Ulster is the most populous county, Kingston the biggest municipality among 160 in the district. The 19th also features almost 127,000 voters of no party, near 29,000 Independence Party members and 11,625 Conservatives. The district includes eleven counties and 700,000 residents.
The race came about because three-term Republican Chris Gibson of Kinderhook, declined to run again, heading instead off to academic climes. Gibson managed to maintain a moderate appearance in the split district, despite mostly voting the Republican line throughout his terms.
It should again be noted, after many instances of confusion during the presidential primary in April, that only registered Republicans can vote in the Republican primary and only registered Democrats in the Democratic primary.