Hugh Reynolds: Moments of truth await NY-19 hopefuls

A curious kind of calculation is going on among some of the seven Democratic candidates seeking their party’s nomination to run for Congress against Republican incumbent John Faso in November. Should they challenge or not challenge the nominating petitions of rivals?

The petitions are due at the state board of elections this week. The boards of election do not challenge petitions. That’s up to the candidates.

One might think that the smart thing to do would be to challenge any and all rival petitions. After all, knocking a competitor out of the race only increases one’s chances for election. Right? Not necessarily so, especially with the unprecedented number of candidates.


A minimum of 1,250 valid signatures are required for placement on the ballot for the June 26 Democratic primary. Kingston has more than three times as many enrolled Democrats as that.

In this contest, the more the merrier would seem to apply. Based on heightened interest among Democrats and primary history, most prognosticators are figuring a turnout of about 30,000. One on one, the winner would need some 15,000 votes to win. With seven equally divided — which won’t happen — theoretically about 3,700 votes could do it. That’s just 13 percent of the voting pool. Eliminate half the challengers, and the number goes way up.

Should all seven challengers stay in until the bitter end, June 26, and should the winner poll, say 15 percent, of the vote, what does that say about the hopes for Democrats in this district? Not much, if the winner had 85 percent of party members voting against him or her.

Cut down a few contenders and the road to June 26 and beyond looks more navigable. So far, no candidate has volunteered to be the first to opt out.

Antonio Delgado and his 6,000 signatures.

Stealing a march

Some readers who apparently don’t much like candidate Patrick Ryan took umbrage at our “Saving Captain Ryan” headline last week. Alas, how often do those metaphoric opportunities present themselves? Ryan got extensive media coverage for staging a well-attended forum on gun control at the Kingston Library last week. Published reports had attendees at 75. Trust me, it was closer to 125. The library’s community room had a posted capacity of 90, and there were plenty of standees.

Ryan, a Kingston native now living in Gardiner, didn’t have long to bask in the glow of positive self-generated publicity. Antonio Delgado of Rhinebeck beat everybody to the state board of elections with a photo of him holding some 6,000 petition signatures. Nice play, Delgado. Almost Ryanesque.

In a brief press release accompanying the photo, Delgado spoke to just how difficult it is to secure nominating petitions. His team, he said, had knocked on over 30,000 doors to secure those signatures.

Birds in hand

About half the flock of congressional eagles will gather on Sunday afternoon at Christ the King Episcopal Church on Route 213 in Stone Ridge for a forum on immigration. All seven were called, but only four could make it, said sponsors.

Accepting invitations, according to the Ulster Immigrant Defense Network, sponsor of the event, were David Clegg and Jeff Beals of Woodstock, Brian Flynn of Hunter and Gareth Rhodes of Esopus. Democrats Delgado, Ryan and Erin Collier of Cooperstown sent regrets.

The group was formed about a year ago in protest of Trump policies on immigration. The  forum will run from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and the public is invited.

Money honey

First-quarter campaign spending reports, due April 15, are beginning to dribble in. Frontrunner Delgado announced a near half-million-dollar haul for the period ending March 31, bringing his total to just under $2 million. I get a glossy Delgado flyer in the mail at least twice a week.

The standings among top-tier Democrat fundraisers Delgado, Flynn and Ryan aren’t expected to change much. Republican Faso, the congressman, is running behind only two Democrats.

Money can’t buy you love, of course, but it can buy name recognition. Delgado flooded mailboxes with flyers in the month his petitions were being circulated. He can afford it.

Brunch, anyone?

Ulster County Democrats will host their 26th annual spring brunch at The Chateau in Kingston on May 6, from noon to 2 p.m. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will be guest speaker. Honorees will be retiring county attorney Bea Havranek and party Vice Chair Karen Markisenis of the Town of Ulster.

Former Rosendale town supervisor Havranek was the first woman to hold the position of county attorney (“She shattered the glass ceiling,” declared county Democratic Elections Commissioner Ashley Dittus). Generally mum to media, Havranek was nonetheless held in high regard by pols from both sides.


County Republican Chairman Roger Rascoe cited her fairness. “We had Republican issues at times and we had Democratic issues, but she played it down the middle of the road all the way,” he said. “She has been a good attorney for the county.”

Tickets tend to be scarce for this Democratic rite of spring. Early reservations are advised.

Stealing a march from opponents, Republicans will hold their spring brunch on April 22 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Chateau. Congressman John Faso and state Sen. George Amedore will be guest speakers.

Fish and foul

Residents around Tillson Lake in Gardiner are protesting plans by the Palisades Interstate Parks Commission, which has jurisdiction, to drain the lake. The earthen dam that holds some 130 million gallons of water was deemed “high hazard” in a 2016 report. Estimates to fix it range up to $9 million. In published reports, residents say the dam had survived recent major storms but needed work.

A born-again tree-hugger, I always thought the state was about saving bodies of water, not draining them. Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, whose district includes Gardiner, says he’s on the case.

Cahill is also researching how a 32-acre lake near the Shawangunk Ridge in Gardiner was named in 1930 for a hamlet in Rosendale some 10 miles away.

There is one comment

  1. Bruice E. Woych

    “One might think that the smart thing to do would be to challenge any and all rival petitions. After all, knocking a competitor out of the race only increases one’s chances for election. Right?”
    Hugh Reynolds speaks wisdom to power here:
    In election parlance, a spoiler is a non-winning candidate whose presence on the ballot affects which candidate wins (
    The spoiler effect is the effect of vote splitting between candidates… who often have similar ideologies (

    SPOILER ALERT: Not to confuse this with the irritating disclosure of the end of an anticipated movie, We do need to consider a split vote creating a less than actual majority candidate to be selected. We are used to seeing the spoiler effect applied to third party candidates in the actual elections between parties. However, when several candidates in a primary are contending for selective anointing, it is quite possible that the constituency will be so divided (by identity interests or other criteria), that an overall majority selection will not be authentically represented. Theoretically, for example, if ten candidates were seeking nomination it is possible that the winner of that contest could possibly only have 11% control over the voting to gain a majority. So it is not precisely best practice to “knock the competitor out of the race” in typical political faction fighting, but it would be wise for all the candidates to consider if every one is authentically qualified according to the rules…as a democratic unity interest, not a strong arm use of voting rule to muscle out opponents. Of course this is living in the
    “Best of All Democratic Worlds” and may be impractical if not feasibly null. But the attitude counts, and so does unity and getting this primary right. We need the strongest candidate by a true majority count from the full community, not a percentage that leaves some possibility of voter’s remorse.

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