3 in race for Gibson's Congressional seat


By Jim Poole

The race to replace Congressman Chris Gibson is gaining steam, with two candidates on the Republican side and a front-runner for the Democrats.
Former assemblyman John Faso and businessman Andrew Heaney are vying for the GOP nod, while Zephyr Teachout, who ran against Governor Andrew Cuomo in a 2014 gubernatorial primary, is seeking the Democratic nomination.
The 19th Congressional District includes all or parts of 11 counties, and seven Republican committees have endorsed Mr. Faso.
The Schoharie County committee endorsed him several weeks ago, and over the weekend, Mr. Faso gained the support of the Delaware County GOP.
"He's someone we can relate to, talk to," said Schoharie County Chairman Lew Wilson.
"He's going to give Schoharie County the most help."
Mr. Faso, who served in the Assembly for 15 years and also ran unsuccessfully for comptroller and governor, said he's running on his "record, character and knowledge of the district."
His overriding issue is economic growth.
"There are no jobs," Mr. Faso said on Friday. "We need three or four percent growth, not one or one and a half."
Mr. Heaney, who runs a family oil supply business in Dutchess County, wasn't overly concerned with Mr. Faso's GOP endorsements.
After Schoharie County's decision, he chose to drop out of the meet-the-committee process because it appears party leaders in the district would go with Mr. Faso as a familiar candidate.
Mr. Haney is planning to qualify for a June 28 Republican primary.
"Our campaign is all about grass roots," said Mr. Heaney, who claimed he's raised more funds than Mr. Faso.
"We decided our time would be better spent going to the people."
Like Mr. Faso, Mr. Heaney believes economic growth is the key issue, but he also believes people are disgusted with government.
"People in this district are fiercely patriotic, but they've lost faith in the system," he said. "That's one great danger for our country."
Ms. Teachout, a Fordham University law professor who has a home in Dutchess County, announced her candidacy last week.
She believes government is no longer serving the people and added, "I'm willing to take on this broken Washington DC."
Calling herself a strong advocate for campaign finance reform and education, Ms. Teachout also sees energy as an issue.
An anti-fracking supporter, Ms. Teachout questioned the natural gas pipelines poised to cross the district.
"You can't just say no to the pipeline, you have to offer alternatives," she said.
"People have to stand up to big corporations. They can't be afraid, but they have to offer solutions."
Schoharie County Democratic Chairman Cliff Hay said his committee hasn't made an endorsement yet--and may not make one--but he called Ms. Teachout a "great candidate."
"She's intelligent, she's energetic, and she wants to do it," Mr. Hay said. "She can make a difference."
Even though Ms. Teachout entered the race only last week, she already has strong support across the district.
But both Mr. Faso and Mr. Heaney raised questions. They called her a carpetbagger--recently moving into the district so that she could run for office--and also contended that she flipflopped on New York's Safe Act.
"Was she telling the truth in 2014 or is she telling the truth in 2016 when she came out against it?" Mr. Faso asked of Ms. Teachout's Safe Act stance.
"If she's going to be a carpetbagger, own it," Mr. Heaney said. "Be straight with the people. She owes it to be honest."
Responding to the carpetbagger charge, Ms. Teachout contended that as long as she's a voice for the people, they won't care that she recently moved into the 19th District.
"They want someone who's going to do the hard work, someone who'll listen and stand up to the political insiders," she said.
As for her Safe Act stance, Ms. Teachout said she supports part of the act, though not the way Governor Cuomo rammed it through.
"I've been a consistent critic of it all along," Ms. Teachout said. "You have to listen to what people have to say before you pass laws."