When Antonio Delgado stepped down from his congressional seat to become New York’s Lieutenant Governor this past May, both Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, a Democrat, and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, a Republican became eager candidates for a special election that would fill the seat.
And now, as we hit the home stretch on an intriguing, and sometimes confusing August 23 election day that also includes primary contests of importance to both Ryan and Molinaro, the special election for the Delgado seat, one that carries only a four-month term of office before the district itself gets carved up, appears to have has taken on national proportions in the race to control the U.S. House of Representatives.
And though there are many guns and butter areas of disagreement between the two candidates, the issue that has attracted those national eyes and ears is abortion and a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have one.
In a New York Times article entitled Will Abortion Issue Sway Voters’ Choices? N.Y. House Race Poses Test, reporter Grace Ashford put it succinctly: “Mr. Ryan, a combat veteran who serves as executive of Ulster County, is in favor of protecting abortion access nationwide. Marc Molinaro, the Republican executive of Dutchess County, is not.”
Ashford quotes Ryan as calling it “an existential moment for our democracy.”
The race will be conducted in what we’ll call the old 19th district which contains all of Ulster County, Greene, Columbia, Schoharie, Otsego, Delaware, Sullivan, and large parts of Dutchess, part of Rensselaer, a part of Montgomery counties. If you are a registered voter of any party (or no party) in any of those areas you may vote in this election.
The district voted for Barack Obama in 2012, swung narrowly to Trump in 2016, and then back to Biden in 2020. This district dissolves on January 1, as show below.
Ryan figures largely again in a separate primary election on August 23.
This is because the process of reapportionment conducted every ten yearsmanaged to slice apart the old 19th district, portioning out most of southern Ulster County (but including Kingston) into a new 18th District. Thus, for a seat in Congress that would begin January 1, 2023 and last a full two-year term, Ryan, who lives within the new 18th boundaries faces a Democratic primary against Orange County activist Aisha Mills and public servant Moses Mugulusi, also from Orange County.
The new 18th District includes the entire City of Kingston, Marbletown; Rosendale; Esopus; Rochester; New Paltz; Lloyd; Gardiner; Shawangunk; Plattekill; Marlborough; part of Wawarsing; all of Orange County and all of Dutchess County.
Only Democrats may vote in this election. If you live in any of the above locations and are a registered Democrat, you are eligible to cast a ballot in this primary.
And let us reiterate that, yes, Ryan can run in two elections on the same day because the seats he seeks will not overlap. The special election seat disappears on January 1, when he would hope to occupy the new 18th district seat created by the redistricting, providing he wins the primary and the November general election.
Much the same is with Molinaro, who hopes to win the August 23 special election for the Delgado seat in the Old 19th that will expire on January 1, but will still run again in November for a seat in the New 19th district. The only difference between his situation and Ryan’s is that Molinaro has no primary on August 23, having secured the Republican nomination for the New 19th previously.
The Democratic challenger to Molinaro in November will be chosen in a primary, August 23, though. Profiles of the candidates for the Democratic nomination to face Molinaro (both profiled elsewhere in this edition) are Endicott native Josh Riley and Dutchess County beef farmer Jamie Cheney.
The new 19th congressional district features a decisive sprawl from the Massachusetts border out past Ithaca. It consists of Denning; Hardenburgh; Shandaken; Olive; Woodstock; Saugerties; Town of Kingston; Hurley; Town of Ulster; Part of Wawarsing; and the counties of Columbia; Greene; Delaware; Sullivan; Part of Otsego; Chenango; Broome; Cortland; Tioga and Tompkins.
Only Democrats living in those areas may vote in this primary.
There is one Republican-only primary race on the ballot August 23 for a portion of Ulster County. It’s for the GOP nomination forthe 51st State Senate seat pitting former Ulster County Legislature Chairwoman Terry Bernardo against Senator Peter Oberacker.
The 51st in Ulster County consists of Hardenburgh; Denning; Olive; Marbletown; Rochester; Wawarsing; Gardiner and Shawangunk. It also includes Delaware, Broome, Schoharie, Otsego, and parts of Chenango. If you live in any of those areas and are a registered Republican, you may vote in this primary election.
If we’ve said ‘parts of’ your town or county are eligible to vote in an election and you are unsure of your district, please call your board of elections. In Ulster County, that’s 845-334-5470.
All polling sites in Ulster County will be open 6 a.m.-9 p.m. on Tuesday, August 23.