Congressional incumbents Delgado, Tonko claim victory

Antonio Delgado and Paul Tonko

Antonio Delgado and Paul Tonko

CAPITAL REGION — The incumbent Democratic congressmen in two hotly contested Capital Region congressional races claimed victory on Wednesday, although their opponents have yet to concede.

Nineteenth District freshman Democrat Antonio Delgado and veteran congressman Paul D. Tonko each claimed victory in Tuesday’s elections, following the lead of U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik. The 21st District congresswoman claimed victory over challenger Tedra Cobb late Tuesday night.

The contest between Delgado, D-Rhineback, and Republican attorney Kyle Van De Water of Millbrook remains the region’s closest, with only 7,000 votes separating them. With around 60,000 absentee ballots still outstanding, Van de Water showed no signs of conceding.

“The people of New York’s 19th Congressional District have made their voices heard and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to serve again,” Rep. Delgado said in a statement Wednesday morning.

“Not so fast Delgado,” Van De Water’s campaign posted on its Facebook page Wednesday afternoon, a few hours after Delgado issued a statement claiming victory.

But with the state Board of Elections showing Delgado with 47.6 percent of the vote and Van De Water with 45.1 percent, Delgado believes he has achieved victory. Broken down by county, the BOE figures show that Delgado performed best in Ulster and Otsego counties, while Van De Water was the winner in Broome, Schoharie, Rensselaer, Montgomery and Greene counties. The men were near-tied in Dutchess County, the home county of both candidates.

The tightness of the race was something of a surprise, given that Delgado vastly out-fundraised Van De Water, an attorney and military reservist whose only prior political experience was two years on the Millbrook Village Board.

While absentee ballots are left to be counted next week, Delgado’s campaign said 51 percent were cast by registered Democrats, with 22 percent cast by registered Republicans. (The rest were cast by Independents or those enrolled in other parties.) In general, absentee votes are believed to favor Democrats, because more Democrats vote by mail.

“The people of NY-19 re-elected Delgado because he listens to their concerns, fights for the issues they care about, and achieves meaningful results,” his campaign said. “In his first term in Congress, Delgado held 47 town halls, including three town halls in each of NY-19’s eleven counties in 2019.”

In his second term, Delgado’s campaign said he will remain committed to serving the public with accessibility and accountability.

In the 20th Congressional District, Tonko — an Amsterdam native who was going for his seventh two-year term in Congress — held a 13 percentage point lead over Republican Liz Joy of Schenectady, who was the best-funded challenger Tonko has ever faced. Tonko finished with 55 percent of the vote, to just over 42 percent for Joy. Tonko’s campaign expects that lead to widen as absentee votes are counted.

By county, Joy won in Montgomery County — Tonko’s home county — but Tonko carried the other counties, though he won only narrowly in the Saratoga County part of the district.

“I am honored to again receive the confidence of voters in our communities. Their overwhelming voices have called for access to affordable health care, quality jobs, environmental and social justice, and a competent response to the pandemic from the White House that helps us build back better,” Tonko said. “I will continue to fight for these priorities and more for all Capital Region residents with my friend Joe Biden in the White House.”

Joy posted on Facebook Wednesday evening: “We will not concede this race until every person’s vote has been counted. That may work in our favor and it may not,” she wrote. “But, this is how a Republic works and I’m going to respect the people’s votes and completion of tallying those votes.”

Stefanik, who represents the North Country 21st Congressional District, had the most convincing win of Tuesday’s congressional races, besting Cobb — a Democrat who was also her opponent in 2018 — by a 63 percent to 35 percent margin. She carried all 12 counties in the district.

“I know everyday that I do my job that I’m working on behalf of you, listening to your concerns, representing your issues, making sure we have a seat at the highest levels in Washington D.C., whether that’s working with the president of the United States or delivering results in the United States congress,” Stefanik said Tuesday night.

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