CAPITAL REGION — With speculation growing that Democrats could take control of the House of Representatives in January, local Democrats are itching to take on the Capital Region's two Republican members of Congress.
More than a dozen Democrats -- seven in each race -- have filed the paperwork necessary to run in primaries for the 19th and 21st Congressional districts on June 26. The winners of the primaries will face the Republican incumbents.
In the 21st, challengers are hoping to unseat U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, while in the 19th, they are taking on freshman Republican Rep. John Faso, R-Kinderhook. While Faso is a former state Assembly minority leader who has been a figure in statewide Republican circles for decades, and Stefanik, 33, is seen as rising GOP star, few of the challengers have significant political experience.
Nationally and locally, Democrats have been buoyed by House Speaker Paul Ryan's announcement Wednesday that he won't seek re-election, but the fields in the local congressional races were already crowded. Thursday was the deadline to file nominating petitions with the state Board of Elections for the June 26 primary, and candidates have been submitting the necessary petitions since the beginning of the week.
In the 21st District, which covers the North Country from Saratoga and Fulton counties to the Canadian border, the Democrats who have filed enough petition signatures to get on the ballot are Tedra Cobb, of Canton; Donald Boyajian, of Cambridge; Emily Martz, of Saranac Lake; Patrick Nelson, of Stillwater; Kathryn "Katie" Wilson, of Keene, Dr. David Mastrianni of Schroon Lake and Dylan Ratigan, of Lake Placid. Ratigan, a former MSNBC and CNBC host whose entry into the race in February brought national attention, was the last to file, submitting his petitions on Thursday.
At one point, there were nine potential Democratic candidates in the 21st District field, but the others dropped out along the way. Petition signatures could still be challenged as a way to remove candidates from the ballot, though the Board of Elections has initially deemed the petitions valid.
Stefanik, meanwhile, has filed petitions to be on the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Reform ballot lines, as she seeks a third two-year term. She became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress when she first won the seat in 2014. An announced challenge from within the Republican party by a St. Lawrence County farmer never materialized.
On other ballot lines in the 21st District, Wilson has secured the Working Families line, while Emily Kahn, of Schroon Lake, will be the Green Party candidate.
In the 19th District, another seven Democrats have filed petitions to run. That district represents the Hudson Valley and Catskills and includes Schoharie County, most of Rensselaer County and the western part of Montgomery County.
The top fundraiser for the Democrats, who submitted petitions early this week, is Antonio Delgado, of Rhinebeck, a New York City lawyer who grew up in Schenectady. Also filing petitions this week were Patrick Ryan, of Gardenier; Dave Clegg, of Kingston; Jeffrey A. Beals, of Woodstock; Brian Flynn, of Hunter, Erin Collier of Cooperstown and Gareth Rhodes, of Kerhonksen.
Delgado had raised nearly $1.5 million as of Dec. 31, according to federal records -- even more money than Faso, who has taken in about $1.2 million.
On other 19th District ballot lines, Steven Greenfield, of New Paltz, has secured the Green Party line, and Chad MacEvoy, of Westerford, has the Women's Equality line.
Faso has secured the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Reform ballot lines.
In the 20th Congressional District, meanwhile, Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, appears headed for an unopposed re-election. No other candidates from any party have submitted petitions to run against him this fall.
Tonko, a figure in Montgomery County and then Capital Region politics for four decades, has represented the core Capital Region cities in Congress since 2009.