NY-19 is something of a white while for Democrats.
On paper, it’s a district that seems fairly even (Cook Political Report rates it R +2). In 2012, Barack Obama won it by 6% while in 2016 Donald Trump carried by basically the same margin for roughly a 12 point swing.
When the current district was drawn following the 2010 reapportionment process, then freshman (and now former) Congress Chris Gibson was moved from the old 20th district into the new 19th.
Gone were the northern suburbs of Albany and the Capital District and instead Ulster County (including the city of Poughkeepsie) and more rural areas stretching down towards the Southern Tier were added.
However, unlike Gibson’s old district which had previously elected Kirsten Gilibrand and another Democratic, Scott Murphy, to replace her when she was named to fill Hillary Clinton’s term in the Senate, the 19th has proven quite resilient for the GOP.
Gibson was rated as the most liberal member of the Republican House caucus.
In 2012, he won election to the new district by 5.6% over the chairman of the Ulster County Democratic party chairman Julian Schreibman (again while Obama was winning the district by 6%).
In 2014 Democrats had high hopes that Sean Eldridge could self-finance his way to victory (he’s the husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hedges). Despite raising and spending over $6 million dollars (and funneling millions more to local business through an investment firm founded just prior to the race), Gibson won the seat by 28 points.
During the 2016 Democratic presidential primary Bernie Sanders carried the district by winning 58% of the vote.
With that in mind, Democrats nominated Zephyr Teachout as their candidate to face GOP nominee John Faso in the fight to replace the retiring Gibson.
It’s against this backdrop that Democrats will look to try to carry the seat in November.
Facing Faso will be first time candidate Antonio Delgado.
Delgado emerged from a crowded Democratic primary field of 7 candidates.
Faso has raised $2.3 million but without a primary battle, he has a substantial cash on hand advantage with $1.26 million available over that same period of time.
Delgaado fits the mold of a number of candidates Democrats are fielding this time, young, new to elective politics, and reflective of a more diverse electorate.
His resume is a mix of traditional high achievement: a Rhodes Scholar, a graduate of Harvard Law School, a former lawyer at one of the country’s largest lobbying firms.
It’s his more unique history that is drawing attention.
But for all Mr. Delgado’s accomplishments, it’s another part of his past — a fledgling rap career under the stage name “AD the Voice” — that is receiving the most attention in the early days of his race against the Republican incumbent, Representative John Faso.
In 2007, Mr. Delgado released a rap album featuring lyrics that criticize capitalism and America’s history of racial injustice. They include frequent use of a racial epithet common among black rappers, and criticize some of the founders as “dead presidents” who “believe in white supremacy.”
Mr. Faso is trying to use the lyrics against him, saying they are “inconsistent with the views of the people of the 19th District and America.”
The center of gravity for a Democratic hopeful in NY-19 are the Ulster and Dutchess County portions of the districts. To have any realistic chance of winning the seat, Delgado will have to run up the score in these two counties and to some degree hope the more GOP leaning areas do not turnout heavily for Mr. Faso.
In 2016, Faso lost Ulster County by 12% while still carrying the district by 8%. He narrowly edged Teachout in Dutchess County.
A recent Siena College poll shows the incumbent leading in Ulster and Dutchess counties combined by 13% and 5% overall.
NEW: Siena poll #NY19
Rep. Faso (R) 45%
Delgado (D) 40% pic.twitter.com/NxY68REaH4
— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) August 31, 2018
In a year when Democrats hope to wrest control of the House from the GOP, they may not have to win NY-19 but they will need to win districts like it…marginal Republican advantage (at least in theory) that Obama was able to carry in 2012.