With seven candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for the 19th Congressional District — and little ideological daylight between them — campaigns are touting their candidate’s electability in the November battle against incumbent Republican John Faso as they head towards a June 26 primary to decide who’ll get the party’s line.
Last week, Kingston native and former Army officer Pat Ryan was touting a new poll that showed him narrowly beating Faso in a head-to-head matchup. The same survey, by the Democratic Party-aligned firm Public Policy Polling, showed Rhinebeck corporate attorney Antonio Delgado in a tie with the incumbent. The poll, commissioned by Ryan’s campaign, was based on a survey of 928 voters in the district and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percent.
“I’m very excited about the poll because it validates what we’ve believed all along,” said Ryan. “That I’m the candidate who can really beat John Faso because not only can I turn out the Democrats but I can turn out the one third of the district that’s not enrolled in a party.”
The poll shows that, absent any additional information about the candidates, Ryan beats Faso by a 44 to 41 percent margin. Delgado, meanwhile, ties with Faso 42-42. When pollsters provided their subjects with positive information about both Faso and his opponent, Ryan’s lead slipped to 43 to 41 percent, while Delgado’s fell two points to trail Faso 41 to 43 percent. The press release by Public Policy Polling did not mention whether pollsters sought matchup data on the five other Democrats in the race or, if they did, what the results were.
Ryan said he expected his lead over the incumbent to grow as he begins more intensive voter outreach efforts. The campaign rolled out its first television spot, featuring jarring images of schoolchildren in flak jackets and combat helmets, to illustrate Ryan’s support for an assault weapons ban, this week. Delgado’s been airing TV ads for a few weeks now, both locally and on Albany-area stations.
“Voters are still getting to know me,” said Ryan. “We haven’t done any paid ads or other communications.”
Delgado, who’s been among the top fundraisers in the race since announcing his candidacy in early 2017, said the poll demonstrated his electability as much as it did Ryan’s. The 42 percent tie, well within the poll’s margin of error, was just more evidence of his viability as a general election candidate.
“The poll shows that I could beat John Faso,” said Delgado. “I appreciate that an internal poll conducted by Pat Ryan shows that.”
Delgado, like Ryan, is working on a general election strategy built around outreach beyond the party base. But Delgado, the only person of color in the race, is also counting on turning out marginalized groups who often fail to turn out in midterm elections. Those efforts got a boost last week when Citizen Action New York, a statewide grassroots group committed to racial, social and economic justice, endorsed his candidacy. Citizen Action Political Director Quentin Cross said an endorsement committee vetted two candidates in the Democratic Party nomination race before settling on Delgado. (Cross declined to identify the second candidate under consideration). Delgado, Cross said, was chosen based on his commitment to the group’s core issues and constituencies and his viability in the general election.
“We believe he’s the candidate who can get through to marginalized and oppressed communities as well as the moderate, middle-of-the-road base,” said Cross.
The Citizen Action endorsement comes with what Delgado termed “organizational firepower” in the form of experienced community organizers plugged into activist networks around the state.