With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Democrat Antonio Delgado is leading incumbent Republican John Faso, 49-46 percent, a margin of 7,593 votes.
While the total numbers of absentee ballots were not immediately available, and all results are unofficial, Delgado is being hailed as the victory. CNN and NBC have called the race, and, along with Fox, is projecting that Democrats will take control of the House, ending two years of one-party rule in Washington.
Assuming the result holds, the district will have its first Democratic congressman since Maurice Hinchey.
Tuesday’s vote is being interpreted as a rebuke of President Donald Trump, though at least in District 19, the candidates didn’t talk much about him. Both Delgado, a 41-year-old corporate lawyer, and Faso, the 66-year-old freshman congressman (but seasoned veteran of New York State politics), mostly focused on one another’s shortcomings. Delgado attempted to paint Faso as a tool of big donors whose dollars made him take votes that favored the wealthy over everybody else, especially with the attempted ACA repeal and successful tax cut. Faso tried to portray Delgado as just another tax and spend transplant from New York City. (Faso’s proxies took the “outsider” attack one step further with racially tinged ads focusing on Delgado’s brief rap career.)
Green Party candidate Steve Greenfield earned 4,037 votes (1.5 percent) and Diane Neal, 2,619 (1 percent).
Delgado grew up in Schenectady and graduated from Colgate College and Harvard Law School. He studied at Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship. After a brief career as a rapper under the name of AD the Voice in Los Angeles, Delgado returned to New York and joined the high-profile law and lobbying firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, where he worked as a litigator on corporate law cases. Delgado and his wife, Woodstock-born filmmaker Lacey Schwartz Delgado, moved to Rhinebeck from Montclair, N.J. shortly before he announced his candidacy.
Delgado’s path to the Democratic nomination began in February 2017 when he became the first candidate to enter the fray. By June of that year, he would be joined by six more hopefuls seeking to capitalize on a wave of energy and activism that followed in the wake of the 2016 election. Over the course of the year-long primary campaign, Delgado participated in dozens of candidate forums where he positioned himself as a center-left moderate. While his opponents on the left touted their zeal for a government-run single payer healthcare system, Delgado advocated for a government-run “public option” health plan that would exist alongside private insurance plans. While impeachment has become a rallying cry for much of the Democratic Party base, Delgado took a lawyerly stance, arguing that he could not make a decision on the subject until all of the evidence has been presented. And in a campaign season that saw self-described “Democratic Socialists” make inroads into his party, Delgado touted his capitalist bona fides.
“I’ve worked as a litigator at a corporate law firm — it’s not like I’m coming at this from an anti-business, anti corporate, anti-Wall Street perspective,” said Delgado, addressing the need to limit the influence of corporate money in politics. “That would be hypocritical. I’ve worked in those spaces.”
Faso, a Long Island native and Kinderhook resident, was elected to the represent the district in 2016 after Gibson opted to not seek a fourth term in Congress. Faso came to Congress after a long career in politics that began in 1986 when he was elected to the state Assembly. Faso eventually rose to the rank Assembly minority leader before stepping down from the seat in 2002 to pursue an unsuccessful bid for state Comptroller. In 2006, Faso campaigned for governor but lost to Eliot Spitzer. Faso has also worked as a lobbyist at Albany law firm Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, and as consultant to an energy company seeking to build a gas pipeline between Pennsylvania and New York.
In Congress, Faso cast himself as a moderate, touting his ranking as the “18th most bipartisan member of the House” according to Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy and his membership in the informal bipartisan caucus the “Tuesday Group.” He cast a deciding vote to move the American Healthcare Act — the GOP’s ultimately failed effort to repeal and replace Obamacare — out of the House Finance Committee. Later, he voted for the finished bill. He and fellow New York Congressman Chris Collins also negotiated an amendment that would have forced New York State to end its practice of passing a portion of Medicaid costs on to counties.
Faso voted against another signature piece of his party’s legislative agenda, the Tax and Jobs Act of 2017. Faso has said that he voted against the tax cut based on his objection to a provision that caps the amount of state and local taxes that can be deducted from federal tax returns at $10,000. Faso serves on a bipartisan task force on heroin and helped push recently signed legislation to crack down on the importation of the deadly synthetic opioid Fentanyl.