20th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT — Liz Joy, the conservative activist who lost the race against incumbent U.S. Rep. Paul D. Tonko, D-Amsterdam, in 2020, has filed paperwork to run against him again in 2022.
A campaign finance committee for the 2022 congressional election cycle has been filed with the Federal Elections Commission, a year and a half before the election. The filing is unusually early, though some political scientists argue that in a two-year election cycle like that for the House of Representatives, the campaigning never really stops.
“It’s early, but in a district like this you have to be early, and I believe we have to start early and stay out there,” Joy said on Thursday. “We just took a few months to watch things play out, there’s been so much turmoil. I thought about it, and refiled last Thursday.”
Joy is actively fundraising on social media. In 2020, her campaign raised and spent $346,000, and finished with a balance of $34,000; Tonko spent $1.4 million, and finished with a balance above $800,000.
Joy, 52, of Glenville, ran on a conservative platform that included support for President Donald J. Trump and opposition to abortion. She has appeared in recent months as a commentator on conservative-focused television channels like Fox News and Newsmax, where appearances can serve as a vehicle for fundraising.
“I’m still highly concerned about the trajectory of our nation and also of our state. We are $30 trillion in debt at the national level,” she said. She described herself as “pro-life, from the womb to the elderly,” going on to criticize Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for nursing home deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the 2020 election, Tonko, 71, of Amsterdam, received 61% of the vote to 39% for Joy — but that was one of the strongest showings a Republican candidate had made in the district in many years. The only county she won was Montgomery, which is Tonko’s home county.
Tonko, who has served in Congress since 2009 and was a state assemblyman for decades before that, is a self-identified progressive who has supported President Joe Biden’s stimulus package and other legislative initiatives. He has focused on issues like increasing government support for science and technology, investing in infrastructure and fighting for non-fossil fuel energy investments and other policies to slow climate change.
The 20th District, which includes the Capital Region’s core cities of Schenectady, Albany, Troy, Saratoga Springs and Amsterdam, has a heavily Democratic voter enrollment, 211,596 to 116,050 Republicans, according to the most recent state Board of Elections data. The state Republican Party hasn’t invested serious money or effort into district races. While the congressional district number has changed over the decades due to previous redistricting, the Capital Region’s main representative in Congress has been a Democrat for more than 70 years.
Throwing some uncertainty into the situation, however, is the 2020 census, and the impact of redistricting ahead of the 2022 elections. The results of the 2020 census haven’t yet been released, but it is widely anticipated that New York will be losing one, if not two, of its 27 congressional seats, forcing rearrangement of the existing district lines. The Census Bureau is due to release the redistricting counts by Sept. 30.
To date, no Democrats have shown any formal interest in challenging incumbent Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-town of Saratoga, in the 21st Congressional District. In both 2018 and 2020, Stefanik defeated Democrat Tedra Cobb of Canton, who has since formed a political action committee that seeks to support Democratic candidates to run in rural districts.
There are also no Republicans who have filed paperwork to date to run against Democrat Antonio Delgado in the 19th Congressional District, even though Delgado won by a fairly narrow margin in 2020.
The 20th Congressional District includes all or part of Schenectady, Saratoga, Montgomery, Albany and Rensselaer counties.