19th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT — Schenectady native Antonio Delgado maintained a slim lead throughout Tuesday night amid a crowded field of seven candidates in the Democratic primary to face Republican U.S. Rep. John Faso in November.
With over 80 percent of precincts reporting by late Tuesday, Delgado sat atop the field with 22 percent of the vote. Gareth Rhodes, the New York Times-endorsed candidate from Kerhonkson in Ulster County, trailed in second at 18 percent, with Pat Ryan of Gardiner, also in Ulster County, at 17 percent. Those percentages remained virtually unchanged by Wednesday morning, with more than 95 percent of precincts reporting.
Delgado’s first entrance into the spotlight came at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons, where he was a star basketball player. Cutting his teeth at Colgate University and then Harvard Law, earning a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford along the way, Delgado ended up at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, a lobbying firm based in New York and Washington, D.C. Most recently, he lived in Montclair, New Jersey before moving to Rhinebeck. His wife, Lacey, grew up in Woodstock and Kingston before meeting Antonio at Oxford.
Delgado won his home county by just over 6 percentage points when 100 percent of precincts came in from Dutchess County just before 11 p.m. His biggest lead, however, came in Schoharie County, where he took 30 percent of the vote and beat his closest competitor, Ryan, by almost 15 percentage points.
In Cobleskill, voters felt challenged by the crowded field, but were happy with the options available.
"I just hope the ones who don't win support the one who does win." Janice Peters, a Delgado supporter, said.
For Russell Ahnford, his decision to support David Clegg of Kingston would have been made easier with a more refined field.
"I think that it would have been wiser if there was more coordination in the opposition, and they could've said, you're obviously going to be in a better position [to win]," he said. "But that's part of the system. Basically, if you have money, you can run in politics."
Many voters, like Chris Baron, simply wanted to pick the candidate who was best equipped to beat Faso, whom he faults for "always towing the party line."
Baron, however, remained undecided right up until pulling the lever.
"It's probably gonna be a last minute decision," he said before entering the Cobleskill Fire House to vote. "I've got a couple [of candidates] in mind."
With Delgado leading the pack — a field of predominantly white male candidates with the exception of Erin Collier of Hunter in Greene County, who lagged behind at around4 percent throughout election night — voters could have the choice of electing the first black person to the seat. The most recent woman elected in the district was Nan Hayworth in 2010.
Drawing a comparison to the dialogue around Barack Obama becoming the nation's first black president in 2008, Jean Stennett, who voted for Delgado, said she thinks implicit bias will have an effect in the fall, should Delgado get the nod. When asked if the district was ready for an African American congressman, Stennett took a pause, and then smiled.
"I hope so."