Democrat Upsets Republican Challenger In Critical Special Election

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Democrats won a Tuesday special election in New York’s 19th Congressional district, where the party’s candidate Pat Ryan faced Republican pick Marc Molinaro for the chance to serve the remaining four months of the last term of former Rep. Antonio Delgado (D).

Delgado became the lieutenant governor of New York, leaving his seat in the closely divided district vacant. Although Biden resoundingly won New York in 2020, he led Trump in this district by under 2 percent. Ryan won Tuesday by a larger margin, with 51.9 percent of the vote, compared to 48.1 percent for Molinaro as of early Wednesday, at which point the Associated Press already called the race for the Democrat. The seat, POLITICO says, “has been closely watched as the country’s best bellwether this summer,” meaning the outcome of the election was suspected to provide a critical look at political trends and how November elections might unfold — and Democrats prevailed. Delgado first won the district in 2018. If an overwhelming “red surge” was building, which would provide somewhat of a rhetorical counter-punch to the Democratic wave in 2018, it seems likely it would show up here. Yet, the Republicans lost.

On Tuesday, there were also primaries, including in this area, for the general elections in November at which point the next individuals to serve a full term representing local constituents will be chosen. Ryan won the Democratic primary to appear on the ballot again in November, at which point the district in which he’s running will be known as the 18th, and Molinaro’s bid to become the GOP pick for what will be the 19th district in November was uncontested. Molinaro will face Democratic contender Josh Riley, whose experience includes time as a staff assistant for the office of former Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D) and service as counsel for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Ryan, meanwhile, is Ulster County executive, a position leading one of the counties in New York’s Hudson Valley region, where the current 19th district is situated.

POLITICO notes Ryan focused in television advertising ahead of the election on issues including abortion rights in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and leaving state officials to regulate abortion according to their political ambitions. Abortion rights were the first area of concern Ryan mentioned in a statement posted to Twitter about his victory. “Choice was on the ballot,” he said after his victory became clear. “Freedom was on the ballot, and tonight choice and freedom won. We voted like our democracy was on the line because it is. We upended everything we thought we knew about politics and did it together. #NY19, it will be my honor to serve you in Congress.” Molinaro is also a county executive, leading Dutchess County. In Dutchess County, the Republican contender nabbed 51.7 percent of the vote, while Ryan got 48.3 percent according to results available early Wednesday. Ryan won two of the largest county populations inside the district — Ulster and Columbia — by large margins.