Editor’s note: This story was corrected at 12:39 p.m. on July 16, 2018. An earlier version included an incorrect first name for Gerald Benjamin.
19th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT — Congressional hopeful Antonio Delgado is facing criticism from incumbent U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-Kinderhook, over rap lyrics from Delgado’s short-lived music career in the mid-2000s.
“I was shocked and surprised to learn Mr. Delgado authored some very troubling and offensive song lyrics,” Faso said in a prepared statement this week.
Faso condemned Delgado’s lyrics after learning about the songs in a New York Post article, according to Faso’s campaign manager, Tom Szymanski.
Faso and Delgado, a Democrat, will face off in November in a race to represent the 19th Congressional District.
Going by the name AD the Voice, Delgado used his rap music to examine the plight of African Americans and the legacy of slavery.
In his 2006 album “Painfully Free,” Delgado, who could be the first African American to represent the Hudson Valley district in Congress, used the N-word and lamented what the song frames as morally troubling aspects of capitalism.
“I wanna ride with my n—-s see them all get figures. I wanna see a righteous capitalist, if it’s possible for one to exist.”
A line in another song calls the legacy of previous presidents into question.
“Dead presidents can’t represent me, not when most of them believe in white supremacy, like spittin’ on my ancestry.”
Faso, who began the general election campaign by describing Delgado as a carpetbagger for moving to Rhinebeck from Montclair, N.J., shortly before the election’s filing deadline, said Delgado’s lyrics don’t depict the America he knows.
“The tone and tenor of his lyrics, as reported, are not consistent with the views of most people in our district, nor do they represent a true reflection of our nation,” Faso said. “Mr. Delgado’s lyrics paint an ugly and false picture of America.”
Dr. Gerald Benjamin, a political scientist and director of the Benjamin Center at SUNY New Paltz — who has known Faso personally for years — said the latest criticism from the Faso campaign is consistent with his earlier denunciation of Delgado as a carpetbagger.
“It’s not a switch; it’s the same argument,” Benjamin said. “It’s a cultural argument. It’s saying that this guy [Delgado] is not like us.”
Benjamin went on to say that, from the point of view of many white voters in the district who do not listen to much rap, Faso’s criticism of the lyrics plays into their views of the genre, rather than the merits of Delgado’s music.
“It’s not about rap music,” Benjamin said. “It’s about the kind of people that listen to rap music, not the kind of people in upstate New York.”
Delgado, who earned degrees from Colgate University and Harvard Law, as well as a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford, brushed off the Faso statement, pointing to the congressman’s controversial vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and a viral video of a promise Faso made to a constituent with a brain tumor.
“If Faso showed the same amount of concern about our health care as he has for my music, he would not have voted to cut health care for thousands of his constituents, like Andrea Mitchell,” Delgado said.
The constituent, Andrea Mitchell, asked Faso at a rally not to vote for the GOP bill to repeal Obamacare, saying the bill would take away her health insurance. After voting for the bill, which ultimately failed in the Senate, Faso argued that the legislation he voted for would not have taken away Mitchell’s health insurance.
The Faso campaign did not comment beyond the statement it issued.