Congressman John Faso came out swinging against his campaign opponent, and his challenger punched back.
Antonio Delgado, who won the Democratic primary in late June, charged that Congressman Faso offered misleading statements in opening salvos in the race for New York’s 19th Congressional District.
Just hours after Mr. Delgado defeated seven other candidates in the June 26 primary, Congressman Faso issued a press release noting that Mr. Delgado recently moved into the district from New Jersey and that “our neighbors do not look kindly” on newcomers who would “presume to represent us.”
The same press release claims Mr. Delgado “favors a complete government takeover of the healthcare system” and is soft on immigration security.
In a Facebook post a few days later, Congressman Faso questioned whether Mr. Delgado favors abolishing US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Mr. Delgado must tell voters, the post reads, “if he stands with Mayor DeBlasio, Kirsten Gillibrand, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cynthia Nixon and other fellowProgressives on the loony left by wishing to abolish ICE.”
Asked about the ‘loony left’ comment in an interview last week, Congressman Faso responded:
“I thought it was rather mild.”
Mr. Delgado of course disagreed, and in fact refuted all of what the Congressman claimed.
He doesn’t favor government takeover of health care and campaigned on offering the public more healthcare options, Mr. Delgado said.
On immigration and ICE, Mr. Delgado said the issue “must be reviewed and reformed,” not abolished.
“It’s another example of Faso putting words in my mouth,” Mr. Delgado said.
The insinuation that Mr. Delgado is a Jersey native is wrong, he added.
“I grew up in a Schenectady working class neighborhood,” he said.
“Some day the facts will catch up with him.”
Because Congressman Faso is a first-termer, observers consider the race for the district to be a tossup.
Congressman Faso believes it could be a close race. . .but maybe not that close.
“It’s a competitive district,” he said. “It went for Obama in ’12, Trump in ’16, and I won in ’16.
“My record is in the mainstream of how this district is. I personally think it’s a lot less vulnerable than they [Democrats] think.”
Mr. Delgado also believed that the district will be competitive. As evidence that Republicans think so too, he charged that Congressman Faso is getting help from higher-ups.
The Congressman’s attacks “sound like he’s reading from a script from [House Speaker] Paul Ryan,” Mr. Delgado said.
“He’s being told what to do by the party.”
Both candidates said the campaign should be about facts and issues, not personalities.
But both were also aggressive on that point.
“I noticed he deals in platitudes rather than specifics,” Congressman Faso said. “If he’s running against me, he better deal in specifics.”
“Faso deals in a world of disinformation and falsehoods,” Mr. Delgado responded. “People see through that.
“Let’s talk issues––affordable health care, infrastructure, funding for public schools.”
The candidates agreed on one point: That Congress must be less adversarial and more cooperative.
Congressman Faso pointed to his high ranking as a Representative willing to work with Democrats.
Mr. Delgado called for more respect in government.
“That’s one of the reasons I’m running,” he said. “It’s not just a political reason, it’s a moral issue.”