19th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT — U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-Kinderhook, criticized challenger and Schenectady-native Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, as part of a social media fight that is also playing out on the national stage this week.
Incumbent Faso criticized Delgado for his views on immigration and questioned whether the recent primary winner supports recent calls to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division, after several Democrats from the party's progressive wing, including U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, called for dissolution of the agency.
"Mr. Delgado must immediately inform the voters of the 19th Congressional District if he stands with Mayor de Blasio, Kirsten Gillibrand, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cynthia Nixon and other fellow-progressives on the loony left by wishing to abolish ICE," the Faso campaign stated in a Facebook post. "Voters deserve to know whether Mr. Delgado will work to abolish the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement."
Delgado responded later Tuesday by taking to both Twitter and Facebook, posting: "Spoiler alert: I do not support abolishing ICE."
"Congressman Faso should feel free to contact me directly with his inquiries about my positions -- I would be happy to exchange cellphone numbers so that he does not need his staffer to send out statements written by Paul Ryan," Delgado wrote on Twitter and Facebook. "I am eager to discuss our country’s immigration policies and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement with the congressman."
Garreth Rhodes, a former staffer for Gov. Andrew Cuomo who finished second behind Delgado in the primary, supported the nominee in his own tweet.
"The irony of
#NoShowFaso asking @DelgadoforNY19 to answer his questions ... for more than a year, Antonio has been out across #NY19 answering non-stop any questions from anyone who asked, while Faso has been nowhere to be seen," Rhodes tweeted.
Meanwhile, the official Twitter account for the White House attacked Democratic lawmakers who have spoken out against the administration's immigration policies.
"(Congressman Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon), why are you supporting something that would protect drug smugglers?" a White House tweet stated, including a link to a report of a recent seizure of crystal methamphetamine by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. "You must not know what CBP and ICE really do."
While President Trump is known for using his personal Twitter account to attack political foes, the White House has come under scrutiny for using its official account for partisan purposes.
In another Monday tweet, the White House took on freshman California Sen. Kamala Harris, who initially called for abolishing ICE and later clarified that she wanted to reform the agency from within.
"@SenKamalaHarris, why are you supporting the animals of MS-13? You must not know what ICE really does," @WhiteHouse tweeted, linking to an ICE press release about the deportation of a man with ties to the MS-13 gang.
Harris replied, "As a career prosecutor, I actually went after gangs and transnational criminal organizations. That's being a leader on public safety. What is not, is ripping babies from their mothers."
The Faso campaign was not available for comment Tuesday. While the Delgado campaign would not comment on the record about the exchange, they said no cellphone numbers had been exchanged between the candidates as of Tuesday.