Hugh Reynolds: Congressional rap battle

Congressional candidates Republican incumbent John Faso and Democratic challenger Antonio Delgado have at least one thing in common: Neither wasted any time getting on with the main event once the Democratic primary results were in.

Faso was on the horn an hour after polls closed on primary night on June 26 with a preview of coming attractions. Describing his general election opponent as just another outsider shopping for a winnable congressional district, Faso reprised the playbook that won him the last election. I don’t think Delgado will be the punching bag Zephyr Teachout turned out to be two years ago.

Winning habits are hard to break. In politics, it’s all about defining your opponent, and woe the candidate who allows the other side to do it. Delgado, born and raised just across the district line in Schenectady, with future stops in Oxford, Los Angeles, New Jersey and since last year Rhinebeck village, was having none of that.

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Taking the campaign to a higher level, Delgado suggested he and Faso exchange opinions directly rather than through campaign mouthpieces or Beltway PACs. I thought that a capital idea, but got no comment from Faso’s campaign. 

It now appears that as Delgado was taking the high road, only to be ignored by Faso,

the Faso forces were up to no good. The flap that Faso et. al. created by bringing forth an objectionable (to some) hip-hop CD Delgado, now 41, released just as he was turning 30 could turn out to be an unforced error on the congressman’s part. Delgado made no secret of that phase of his life during the primary, though he did not offer up the CD’s N-word lyrics that Faso found so “seriously troubling.”  

Faso, piling on his opening characterization of his opponent as a Jersey lawyer, liberal, carpetbagger, was attempting to further define his African-American opponent as “the other” in what he calls “our district.”

And it’s only mid-July.

Reactions from Republicans I talked to over the weekend regarding Faso’s foray into the hip-hop genre — and this was no scientific poll — generally ranged from dismay to revulsion. Even among GOPers who donated to Faso’s campaigns, the phrase “just plain stupid” made the mix. Oops. A blast from a letter penned by some 20-odd members of local clergy also tipped the scales in Delgado’s direction.

Maybe Faso should accept Delgado’s offer of direct interchanges on important issues, which quite obviously should not include racial innuendo.

Solidarity plus

I’ll admit to a hasty call on this one. After 18 months of grueling campaigning, I expected Democratic primary losers to scatter like seagulls, leaving winner Delgado to fend for himself. Nope. 

A large, enthusiastic crowd gathered at the Rhinecliff Hotel last Saturday afternoon to hear five of six former candidates extol the virtues of the man who handily defeated all them. All heaped scorn on the opposition. 

Erin Collier, after finishing last, motored over on a hot, steamy day from faraway Cooperstown to join the love fest. Jeff Beals of Woodstock, the most radical of the original seven, did not attend. Perhaps it was because his car only makes left turns and Rhinecliff is east of Woodstock via the George Clinton Bridge.  (Does anybody call it by its official name?) 

The riverfront rally, not far from Delgado’s home in Rhinebeck, was a good start for the challenger. The Harvard lawyer and Rhodes scholar probably needs every Democratic vote available, and lots of independents, to win. He had to be impressed, and grateful.

By the numbers

Official primary final results (with the absentee ballots included) showed Delgado with some weak spots in Democratic strongholds. Delgado finished a distant fourth in Woodstock, despite his wife being a native of the town. With 449 Woodstock votes, Dave Clegg crushed Jeff Beals, who had 338. The Kingston lawyer has lived in Woodstock for 34 years against less than two for Beals. 

Gareth Rhodes of Kerhonkson, after finishing a strong second to Delgado in the district, but fourth in the county, was  the first ex-candidate to publicly to campaign for Delgado, appearing at one of those weekly “Faso Fridays” sidewalk rallies at the congressman’s district office in Kingston. Good move. Petulance has no place in politics. Rhodes, who turned 30 this month and is headed back to Harvard Law, has a bright future. 
With the hometown vote split every which way among the Ulster-based candidates, Delgado could use some shoring up in Democratic bastions like Kingston, New Paltz, Rosendale, Woodstock and Gardiner. While popularity isn’t always transferrable, having surrogates like the five-pack on the campaign trail in key areas could help. We’ll see.

Roundabout roundabout

I don’t know about other motorists, but I look upon the reconfiguration of the juncture of Albany Avenue, Broadway and Chandler Drive in Kingston into another roundabout with considerable trepidation. State planners say it will take upwards of two years to complete the job, if they bring it in on time. And the cost may be almost double original estimates.

But there’s some good news. Kingston’s water department, tasked with replacing century-old water mains as part of the project, looked at state estimates and called in its own consultants. To the amazement of the big Albany spenders, the estimates came in at half the million-dollar original figure. 

Water department superintendent Judith Hanson, “Hard Hat” to the crews she joins in ditches from time to time, treats water and money like precious resources. How quaint. Maybe ol’ tight-fist should be running this job.

Poly biz

Not that polls released in July mean much, but the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s sampling of local voters had their man Delgado up seven points last week. Call it a primary bump. The only poll that matters should be a good deal closer. The next poll by somebody, probably in mid-August, could be more significant.

Nobody’s heard much recently from independent congressional candidate Diane Neal of Hurley, but she’s out there beating the bushes for the 3,500 signatures required for ballot placement in November.

Joining the fray this month was Dal LaMagna (pronounced “lamanya”) of Clinton. A retired businessman, the self-described “man from lasagna” and inventor of the hugely successful “better tweezers” says he’ll invest at least $100,000 in his independent campaign. Given the odds of any independent other than Bernie Sanders winning federal office, LaMagna might better call himself the man of La Mancha.

LaMagna, like Neal, is quotable. “Faso is the past, Delgado is the future,” he said. If either Neal or LaMagna, assuming they make it on the ballot, take many votes from Delgado, Faso will be the future, and probably for a long time. 

Neal, 42, a former Law and Order TV actress, and LaMagna, 72, have until July 31 to secure the necessary signatures. After that looms a long-shot campaign. What’s that they say about being careful about what you wish for?

Incumbent Ulster Sheriff Paul VanBlarcum and challenger Juan Figueroa, the unofficial Democratic nominee, both made the ballot for the Sept. 13 Democratic primary, reports the board of elections.

With Democratic committee members carrying his petitions, Figueroa posted just over 3,000 signatures against 1,500 for Van Blarcum. According to campaign spending statements, the challenger has raised $20,600 (in round figures) against $14,300 for the sheriff. Competitive county-wide races usually require at least six figures.

Condolences to the family and friends of former Hurley supervisor Raymond (Jake) Croswell, who died at 88 this week. Jake served as town supervisor for ten years, ending in 1985. A Republican of true Hurley stone-house fashion, Jake was averse to spending money. Friends may recall the time a newcomer asked about the town building a swimming pool at the town park. “Build one for yourself in your own back yard,” retorted Jake. “We’re not spending town money on that.”

That was Jake.

There are 10 comments

  1. Bruce E. Woych

    John Faso could be leading the local voices to help get Juan Carlos Alonzo Vasquez from a prison cell, where he sits apparently without due process of law. Not a tweet has been heard. According to the Friday Freeman (July 20, 2018; pages 1&2) Vasquez was placed in Orange County Jail after being seized on his way to work by I.C.E. for reasons that are left as speculative and a decade old misdemeanor; but some suggest it was as simple as a visit to the Social Security Office. Vasquez is, or was, legally in this country and Faso’s office was called to request help since I.C.E. was not giving information beyond his location 9from their locator site according to the reporter).
    Brandy Walters, the manager at The Anchor restaurant where Vasquez has worked has notified the office of U.S. Rep. John Faso, but there has been no obvious support or vocal outcry from Faso as Vasquez sits in jail over this weekend in fear and no doubt despair. Apparently that is what happens when you are one of the
    “others” when people in power decide they own the district. Of course the verdict is guilty; forget the standards of innocent until proven guilty. Some comments have been vicious and sadistic, while the vast majority of good citizens in district 19 are organizing a letter writing campaign and calling for his release. You can call this lawful, but the last time I looked this is the way hit squads operate in 3rd world countries. Of course, had Vasquez written a RAP SONG about this, that would be different. I suspect Faso would have had a loud voice if that were the case.
    The great news is that the Magnificent 7, or at least the Magnificent 6 are working together. This has to be a model for Democrats across the country, but apparently Gerry Benjamin hasn’t heard about this yet. Thank goodness for Hugh Reynold’s coverage! It would be great if these patriots continue to demonstrate an how a participatory democracy works over and above self interest, and perhaps the NY Times would do a constructive story on the districts true colors! Faso woul;d like Delgado to be on the defensive for the next 3 and a half months over nonsense skirmishes by small minded people. but perhaps our Magnificent 6 should hold some public democratic conferences and not even invite Faso? In that regard, we should all keep Faso on the “other” side of de…fence where he belongs.
    Call his office and tell Faso to get to work helping to free Vasquez A.S.A.P. and stop with the B. S. soundbytes.

  2. Steve Dunda

    I don’t know what Mr. Reynolds means by “punching bag.” In 2016 Faso beat Teachout by only 8 points, in a Trump year and an “anger at the system” year, and she didn’t even bother to move into District 19 at the last possible moment like Delgado did. No matter how “tough” or “high road” Delgado talks, our District still has too many Democratic voters that call themselves “Centrist.” The fact is, “Centrist” has come to mean NOTHING about policy, but everything about FUNDRAISING. Our “Centrist” Democratic voters voted for Delgado because they, like the Nancy Pelosies of Washington, believe that the highest fundraiser must also be the “leading” candidate (though there were never any official polls taken) and people want to vote for a candidate who they think is a winner. The DNC and DCCC share this belief. (Go online and read the article written by Rolling Stone’s Political Analyst Matt Taibi entitied: “The Battle of Woodstock Part I.”) So Faso will no doubt exploit the following facts about Delgado: The non-partisan “Center for Responsive Politics” (opensecrets.org) reported that Delgado had out-raised ALL NY19 candidates ($2,245,119 as of June 6), including Faso. I am sure he has – employees at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld have been the biggest contributors to Delgado’s campaign, donating $157,930 so far, which is 3 times as much as Senator Gillibrand, and he tops the list of 100 candidates nationwide, including Donald Trump! Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld is the largest lobbying firm in the country, which lobbied in 2017 for Bain Capital, Philip Morris, The Domestic Petroleum Council, The American Bankers Association, Chevron, Pfizer, Monsanto, Amazon, the National Grid, UPS, and Volkswagen Group of America, according to U.S. House of Representatives lobbying disclosures. Akin Gump is also an international law firm headquartered in Washington, D.C., with 19 offices and 900 lawyers, including Delgado. The Albany Times Union reported: “He represented major corporate clients while his campaign is preaching a populist economic message.” ” Delgado’s campaign website states that his second career as an attorney consisted of “fighting for what’s fair and just.” Yet he worked for MAJOR CORPORATE CLIENTS, “which involved representing them in matters such as bankruptcy proceedings, contract disputes and a defamation suit. Delgado’s roster of clients included Keith Meister — an activist investor known as ‘Carl Icahn’s right-hand man’ — and a subsidiary of Friendfinder Networks, which owns more than 44,000 porn and hook-up websites around the globe. He represented Apollo Global Management, a major hedge fund that has been involved in a number of controversies not related to Delgado’s own work.” In addition, he also earned $329,000 in 2016 and $217,000 through July of 2017 working for Akin Gump, according to financial disclosures that also list between $390,000 and $990,000 in other assets, including a bank account with up to $500,000. He is the No. 1 “carpetbagger” among the candidates, having just moved into District 19 in February 2017 to run for Congress, and was able to afford a $539,500 house in upscale Rhinebeck, where many rich New York City people have second homes. Moreover, he registered as a Democrat just one month after moving to Rhinebeck! (He had quit the Democratic Party in 2014 while living in New Jersey). He also received the largest AMOUNT, and largest PERCENTAGE, of campaign contributions from outside NY District 19 of all 7 primary candidates. Facts are facts, and these facts reveal Delgado as being just another corporate Democratic candidate. He says “we need to get big money out of politics,” yet doesn’t walk this talk in his own campaign. He tried to steal Jeff Beals’ thunder by pronouncing himself and his policies as ‘Progressive,” apparently not realizing that the No. 1 requirement for being “Progressive” is NOT TAKING BIG CORPORATE MONEY in your campaign. So what if he beats Faso? In that event we’ll just have another MOC who’ll be “representing” his donors, not us constituents.

    Democrats in NY19 really blew it by not electing Jeff Beals, who refused big money, and was the ONLY candidate endorsed by the JUSTICE DEMOCRATS, a national organization of former Bernie staffers working for a People’s Platform using grassroots fundraising. They’ve endorsed 52 candidates nationwide from all backgrounds – creating a pre-formed caucus to run AS A SLATE, to get money out of politics and create progressive legislation. Therefore, Congressman Jeff would have had a coalition of lie-minded Progressive representatives to work with! Jeff has 11 years of government experience. As a CIA analyst, he briefed Congress and wrote for President Clinton’s Daily Brief. As a decorated State Department Diplomat, fluent in Arabic, he worked many years in Iraq: creating the first diplomatic talks and helping to create an Iraqi constitution. Growing up he worked on a farm and is now a schoolteacher. Jeff’s diplomatic work under both Republican and Democratic administrations would have helped Republicans and Democrats work together. (Now go to Taibi’s Rolling Stone article: “The Battle of Woodstock Part II,” and also visit justice democrats.org, plus my website: chooseyourmemberofcongress.com.) As for me, as a Progressive Democrat myself, I too want to see the House flipped to a Democratic majority, so I will watch ALL the races on Election Night and wait until 8:50 pm to vote. If I see that the Dems will win a majority even without Delgado, then I will vote for independent Dal LaMagna, a friend of Jeff’s who has pledged to vote with the Democratic Caucus – it might be necessary for ignorant Dems in NY19 to suffer 2 more years w/ Faso to get them to realize that grassroots Democrats are the future of the party, NOT BIG MONEY DONATIONS!

    1. JamaicaonHudson

      Fruedian slip? Also, I’m not voting third-party as it will split the vote. And, considering the option(s), I’m not sure why any self-proclaimed Progressive would do so either? On an aside, you keep going on (first with Beals and now with his “friend”) about “Centrists” versus “Progressives”, you do realize that (a) this is not the full extent of the Democratic party and (b) Weimarization of the party diffuses power, right?

      Again, no party or candidate is perfect, but I’m voting for Antonio Delgado because I like him: He’s struck the right note with the district, is working hard, sticking to the issues, and has reached out to all of the other Democratic candidates (including Jeff Beals who, after railing on everyone, seems to have disappeared entirely). I know you’re huge into the Justice Democrats but their candidates fair better in solidly blue districts–which this is not. NY-19 is not NY-14 and neither are we a rural Appalachian district. As such, due to being what we are, a consensus-builder (not hard Left, Centrist, or Conservative) is the type of representative we need. That’s why Antonio Delgado, i.e. A.D., is the best candidate (and why I’m voting for him).

  3. Bruce E. Woych

    Steve: “Jeff Beals of Woodstock, the most radical of the original seven, did not attend.” He didn’t show up.
    Primaries over. Get with the ticket and use your skills to change the government not the party. It is time to unite.
    Your vocal dissent against some active protagonists who take aggressive leads in Party Politics is well taken, but the Democratic party is in its members and you seek to dilute that membership because you don’t agree with some of its institutional Party leaders…that’s logical? Because of a minority of political players you want the Bernie Sanders supporters to leave the party? That is not only self destructive it is outright subversion.
    Facts? Faso voted against our health plan initiative. Faso was a professional lobbyist for corporate.
    You recite references from out of date Rolling Stone articles but ignore recent ones by the NY Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/18/opinion/editorials/john-faso-antonio-delgado-congress-19th.html
    on July 18th that remind us of Faso’s vote last year to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, and his callous statement that equated food stamp support to poverty stricken people with a program that facilitates drug dealers when they quote him saying: “virtually every drug dealer they arrest has got a food stamp card in his pocket.” but it doesn’t stop there, my friendly progressive, Faso did not stand out and speak to his constituents in this district when they went to his door. He hid. And maybe a CIA trained person that doesn’t show up to support the current candidate is in the same category. We have enough false front people running around rouge in this country. We don’t need another one pretending to support Democrats in this district and with the same breath piling on innuendo and conflated guilt by association into an ad hominem diatribe upon the
    Democratic candidate that was selected by this past primary. The people have chosen this man , fight for him or run for congress against him. But don’t come out to sabotage the efforts of all of us that intend to win this November and call yourself one of us.

  4. wendy wynberg

    I knew this was coming….RIght WIng activists would be trying to discourage Democrats from voting….ie the Bernie vs. Hillary fake attacks…Unfortunately we will have to fight harder for Delgado to win than if one of the other Progressive candidates in CD#19 had won….again…a candidate that is an easy target…NYC Law FIrm with unsavory clients…and such…Delgado is an honorable and stands for Progressive values….but here we go again Folks!

  5. wendy wynberg

    Oh and Hugh Reynolds is included in my list of GOP activists….create discussions that will spilt Democrats . Shame on you Hugh

  6. CIA, Retired

    Here’s the deal for all you folks playing the tired old, and grossly incorrect game of “local” vs. “non-local”.
    If I or anyone OWN A HOME HERE, PAY TAXES HERE, AND VOTE HERE – I HAVE A SAY EQUAL TO YOURS.

    The ignorance of that game is no different than the illegal act of jerrymandering voter districts, obstructing voting rights…it’s always ignorance based in racism or some other bias.

    WE LIVE HERE TOO!
    So get the F over it!

    As for Faso – he’s a total failure – has ZERO to show for his record, is a coward who doesn’t show up for any
    LOCAL EVENTS OR MEETINGS!!! He’s dead weight with a narrow white-man’s view of the world. He endorses a president who talks about “grabbing” women’s private parts and laughs about it. He endorses an immorral pig.

    Enough already.
    OUT.
    Revolution is coming folks!

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