Popular Ulster County executive Pat Ryan’s prospects for winning a congressional seat brightened considerably this past week. It wasn’t because of anything he did. It was because of what other people did or didn’t do.
The second and final round of court-ordered New York congressional redistricting last week revised the boundaries to put all of heavily Democratic Kingston in the new 18th Congressional District, the one for which Ryan is competing. To compensate for this change, the new lines put more of Wawarsing, more competitive for the GOP, in the neighboring 19th CD. Score one for Ryan’s hopes.
Politically ambitious state senator James Skoufis announced he would not run for the congressional job. With a strong Orange County base, Skoufis would have been serious primary competition for Ryan. Explaining his decision, Skoufis said that though he probably could have won the primary his party would have been weakened for the general election. It’s highly likely there was more to his decision than that. Still, more good news for Ryan.
On the Republican side, no primary opponent has arisen to oppose assemblymember Colin Schmitt for the nomination. Schmitt, a 31-year-old serving his second term in a lower-house district that includes parts of Orange and Rockland counties, lives in New Windsor.
Though he cites his bipartisanship, Schmitt has been long associated with Trumpian causes. It’s hard to imagine Orange County executive Steve Neuhaus, who recently said Mike Pence would make a good president, supporting Schmitt against Ryan with much enthusiasm.
“If there’s one thing that unites most elected Democrats and Republicans in the Hudson Valley,” wrote Skoufis’ former spokesperson Jessica Gulotta, “it’s their inability to effectively work with assemblyman Schmitt given his total self-interested, self-promoting, megalomaniac disposition.”
With Schmitt as his GOP opponent in the general election, Ryan might well attract a larger share of the middle-of-the road vote than otherwise,