NEW YORK 19th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT — Schenectady native Antonio Delgado rode a wave of enthusiasm among progressives to win the Democratic Primary in New York's 19th Congressional District, with voter turnout up at least 55 percent from the district's last primary.
The former Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons basketball star and Rhodes Scholar was declared the winner by just over 4 percentage points districtwide in a crowded field of candidates.
Shortly after the Associated Press called the race for Delgado late Tuesday night, the National Republican Congressional Committee issued a statement painting the nominee as a carpetbagger.
“Antonio Delgado is running to bring his liberal New York City values to the 19th District," the release states. "His liberal colleagues at the largest lobbying firm in Washington are bankrolling his campaign because they know he would be a rubber stamp for Nancy Pelosi.”
So far, Delgado has refused to voice his thoughts on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California. After growing up in Schenectady and attending Colgate University, Harvard Law and Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, Delgado most recently lived in Montclair, N.J., while working for the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld before moving to Rhinebeck. Delgado's wife, Lacey, grew up in Woodstock and Kingston before meeting Antonio at Oxford.
Incumbent Congressman John Faso, R-Kinderhook, congratulated Delgado on his win before launching his first attack on the candidate.
"I congratulate Mr. Delgado on his victory in the Democratic primary election," Faso said in a statement issued by his campaign. "This November, Mr. Delgado will cast his first-ever general election vote for Congress in our district after just moving here from New Jersey. He will soon learn, as the last two Democrat candidates for Congress before him, that our neighbors do not look kindly upon candidates who have just moved into our district and presume to represent us."
A native of Schenectady, Delgado apparently was able to make inroads with primary voters in the 19th district — even in counties with recognizable local figures running in the race.
For example, in Ulster County, whose density of registered Democrats relative to other counties in the district made it highly coveted, Delgado was able to eke out a victory over four other candidates who were county residents. Of the 13,072 votes cast in Ulster County, Delgado beat his closest challenger, David Clegg of Kingston, by 150 votes.
Delgado's best showings came in his home base of Dutchess County and in Schoharie County, where he pulled ahead with about 30 percent of the vote in each.
Schoharie County Democratic Committee Chairman Cliff Hay said that, while he refrained from making an official endorsement during the primary, he will be excited to see Delgado take on Faso in the fall.
"I believe [Delgado] was more attuned to the thoughts of people of Schoharie County and what they wanted and what he thought he could do for Schoharie County, which Faso didn't," Hay said.
With the possibility of becoming the first African-American to represent the district, Hay drew comparisons between Delgado and former President Barack Obama, and warned of a potential for implicit bias to play a roll in the opposition's campaign — if not from the Faso campaign itself, then from outside groups.
“The Republicans have been known for stuff like that before, so why would they change?” Hay said.
Ultimately, Hay said, Delgado's intellectual pedigree and accomplishments will speak for themselves.
“What other qualifications do we need other than intelligent people running this government?" Hay asked.