New York’s 19th Congressional District stretches from Poughkeepsie clear up to Oneonta, including swaths of the territories once represented by Maurice Hinchey and Kirsten Gillibrand (when she was in the House). In its current configuration is, it is one of the few congressional districts in the nation that hasn’t been gerrymandered enough to ensure victory to one of the two major political parties.
First-term representative Antonio Delgado, a Democrat, won a narrow victory against John Faso as part of the blue wave in 2018 The district went for Donald Trump by six points in 2016. This November, Delgado faces Republican Kyle Van de Water as a challenger, along with third-party candidates Steve Greenfield (Green) and Victoria Alexander (Libertarian).
Delgado, who has accumulated a large election war chest, is exceptionally well funded. Van de Water, who won a primary struggle for the nomination largely because of GOP organizational support, has less money. The fate of his campaign may well depend on whether his race gets strong financial support from national sources deciding to put their money where they think it will do the most good. There are a lot of supplicants for that support.
Delgado won his close race against incumbent John Faso in 2018 on the basis of his pluralities at the eastern end of the sprawling district, particularly in Ulster County. By emphasizing his record of frequent town-hall meetings and strong constituent service, he hopes to improve on his election numbers in a presidential-election year when Donald Trump’s job performance may be the major issue.
Delgado is generally considered a cautious political moderate. But like presidential candidate Joe Biden, he is being criticized by the Republicans for being a prisoner of the far-left wing of his party.
Kyle Van de Water
Kyle Van de Water, the Republican candidate, is an attorney and military veteran who lives in Millbrook, where he served as a village trustee in 2017 and 2018. In a June interview, Van de Water cited state legislation such as last year’s bail reform and “endless investigations into the president of the United States that were baseless” as inspiration to run. “I don’t want my children growing up in a country run by socialists.” Van de Water has eleven-year-old triplets as well as a five-year-old child.
Van de Water’s platform includes building the wall along the Mexican border while also streamlining the process of legal immigration. The candidate is a gun-rights advocate who believes the Second Amendment “is there to tell the government that everybody has individual rights.” He is a major in the U.S. Army Reserve.
He believes tax incentives should be used to bring business to the district, and that infrastructure is a priority that has been stymied by generalized opposition to the president. He advocates for a strong military.
The candidate writes on his website, “I do not condone foreign aid or nation-building without reciprocation of resources or assets, especially in countries that do not exhibit honesty or fairness to America.”
The United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement is representative of the aid Van de Water wants to bring for local agriculture. Additionally, he supports a balanced budget and a simplified tax code in the form of a flat-rate income tax.
Are there any particular issues unique to the district that you would be championing in the 2021-22 term?
First, we will defeat the virus and keep America healthy by ensuring that we have the best medical care at the lowest cost in the world. We will restore our way of life, and we will ensure the safety and security of all the NY-19 communities.
Second, we will get the citizens of NY-19 working again with good-paying jobs by supporting local businesses and their workers by giving them federal, forgivable loans through the Paycheck Protection Program.
Third, we are going to renew the American dream by making sure that children go to the school the parents believe is best for them.
And last, we are going to support our local farms by making sure that they sell their product to local schools and across all borders. We are going to support our local farmers.
Do you think voting by mail is safe and secure?
Will you accept the outcome of the 2020 presidential election?
I will, so long as each candidate has been afforded an exhausted all due process.
Do you support diversity training for federal employees?
Yes, so long as the training is not politicized.
Have you ever voted for a Democratic candidate?
I voted once for a Democrat that was my neighbor. I have also voted for a few judges in my judicial district because there were no Republicans running against them, and more importantly, I felt that they were fair and impartial with regard to the law.
According to your website, pre-existing conditions should not be a factor in healthcare, something that’s true under the Affordable Care Act. You favor replacing the ACA with a plan that “will open the markets and force the insurance companies to compete for your business.” What does that plan look like, and what would your strategy be to achieve bipartisan support for its passage?
Unfortunately, it is going to be difficult to get bipartisan support because the far left is determined to force the Democrats to maintain Obamacare at a minimum, and at the most, create a single-payer government-run system. That is why we need a Republican House, a Republican Senate and a Republican president to effectuate my plan. Competition across state lines will force insurance carriers to provide the best medical coverage at the lowest cost. I will also fight to lower prescription drug costs. I will never, nor have I heard any Republican, ever take away coverage for pre-existing conditions. The far left perpetuated the fake narrative that Republicans will take this away.
Antonio Delgado, the incumbent, is a Democrat who lives in Rhinebeck. Like Van de Water, he is an attorney.
Delgado’s economic priorities include opposing “any trade agreements that are not beneficial to our region or to American workers,” protecting businesses that are dependent on a pristine natural environment, promoting easier access to borrowing by small business owners, increasing the minimum wage, expanding access to paid family leave, and creating a regulatory environment that does not privilege larger companies. The candidate also supports allowing members of the public to opt in to Medicare, investing more heavily in public education, and simplifying the federal ax code by eliminating “loopholes that are only available to the super-rich.”
Delgado office declined to provide answers to the questions we submitted. Rather, it offered a number of bullet points about the candidate, including:
Rep. Delgado has held 47 town halls in his first term, including 35 in-person events and 12 virtual town halls during the pandemic. He set up five district offices and created bipartisan, locally-based advisory committees on agriculture, small business, health care, and veterans affairs. Delgado sits on three congressional committees: Transportation & Infrastructure, Agriculture, and Small Business.
The congressman has introduced 42 bills, including 25 bipartisan bills. 16 of which have passed the House.
Three of Rep. Delgado’s bills were signed into law including:
The Family Farmer Relief Act, which eases the process of reorganizing debt through Chapter Twelve bankruptcy and increases the eligibility threshold to more accurately reflect the cost of doing business for family farmers today. Chapter Twelve is a tool created specifically to help family farmers during tough economic times.
Legislation to rename the Pine post office after fallen soldier Senior Chief Petty Officer Shannon M. Kent. SCPO Kent, a Pine Plains native, was killed in Syria by a suicide bombing during her fifth combat tour in the Middle East in January 2019.
The Small Business Repayment Relief Act, which provides $17 billion in automatic, direct loan payments for new and existing small business loans during [the pandemic].
Legislation introduced by the congressman which was not passed included:
The Medicare-X Choice Act, which would create a public option, enabling anyone to buy into Medicare while also allowing [those] who are happy with their current private insurance to keep it; the Rebuild Rural America Act, which would provide automatic, non-competitive federal aid to small, rural communities, allowing them to pursue economic development projects tailored to their needs; and the Green Jobs and Opportunity Act, environmental legislation to combat climate change and ensure the workforce is ready to transition to a clean energy economy.
Rep. Delgado also has hosted an in-district field hearing with an FCC commissioner to highlight broadband needs in upstate. Following the hearing, he introduced legislation aimed at addressing flawed broadband mapping practices and empowering local communities to challenge flawed maps, and legislation increasing broadband speed standards in rural communities.