Democratic Candidate Speaks
To Full House In Cooperstown
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Antonio Delgado was met with cheers and applause from 120 of the Democratic faithful – and a handful of Republicans – in Templeton Hall this evening.
Questions ranged from fracking to FERC and Social Security to Glass–Steagall. A 9-year-old, Greta Green, who lives in Washington, D.C., but is visiting her grandmother, Cynthia Benjamin, in Garrattsville, asked about protecting children from gun violence.
“It hurts that a 9-year-old even asks that question,” he said.
But the question of the hour – the 19th District Congressional candidate’s former life as AD The Voice, a hip-hop performer in L.A. whose lyrics in his “Painfully Free” CD were liberally sprinkled with the N-word and epithets – was only touched on lightly during the formal part of the evening.
As the Q&A began, moderator Paula DiPerna advised the candidate she would be questioning him more closely later on the issue – Delgado’s rap career was reported on July 8 in the New York Post, and his Republican opponent, Congressman John Faso, issued a press release expressing “shock” at the “troubling and offensive lyrics” – and to be prepared.
At that point, Delgado posed a question for Faso: “Is that all you’ve got?” He went on to say the music – “and that was back in 2006” – dealt with the same issues he’s dealing with today, like injustice and misogyny. “The ideals are the same, and there’s the same desire to serve.”
DiPerna said she ran out of time during the program to revisit the lyrics’ issue, but she did ask him what he intended to do about it as the candidate was greeted by attendees after the two-hour Q&A ended.
Delgado answered, “We’re here to talk about the issues – that’s it.”
“I think you have to address them” – the lyrics, said DiPerna, who herself ran for Congress in 1992 against the then-incumbent, Sherwood Boehlert, R-Utica. “There are words on paper; there are words in the paper.”
Noting the enthusiastic welcome from this evening’s audience, Delgado said voters don’t care about hip-hop lyrics from 12 years ago. At a similar meeting in Columbia County, people asked him why anyone was raising the issue at all, he said.
Tonight’s audiences and the earlier one were made up of supporters, DiPerna replied. She gave an estimate of the number of votes Delgado needs to get to win, “and you aren’t going to get them. John Faso is after you on (the lyrics). What’s your answer?”
At this point, an aide tried to usher people away, saying the two were having “a private conversation,” which she then began recording on her iPhone.
Delgado replied that the goal of his music was “uplifting and empowering young people – that’s the goal … What I did then, I’m doing now.” He added, “I’m not here to do anything but to help the people.”
DiPerna continued, “We have to talk about rap music because the other side thinks it’s a way” to victory.
“Most people don’t ask about it,” he repeated, and those who think it’s an issue “tend to be the people who are struggling with themselves. No one’s coming and saying, you have to explain it to me.”
When DiPerna pressed him again, Delgado replied, “I’m not here to talk about tactics. I’m here to talk about issues.”
“You have to talk about tactics,” she said, and the exchange ended.
Delgado was appearing at the forum with two other Democratic candidates, Chad McEvoy of Westford, who is running against Assemblyman Brian Miller, R-101st, and Joyce St. George of Delaware County, who is challenging state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford.
The evening was organized by Sustainable Otsego, which DiPerna’s co-moderator, Adrian Kuzminski, described as a non-partisan organization interested environmental issues.
McEvoy and St. George received a friendly reception, but Delgado’s statements were frequently met with sustained applause.
Raised in a working-class family in Schenectady, he graduated from Colgate, won a Rhodes Scholarship and earned a Harvard Law School degree. He has been a lawyer with Akin Gump, an influential law firm.
He reflected on that success story: “I can’t forget where I came from and how it all happened.” While he was given opportunities that he capitalized on, now people are “being pushed into the cracks,” he said.
One questioner asked Delgado how he could criticize Faso for lobbying while Akin Gump also lobbied. He said the firm has 19 offices, and he wasn’t associated with the one in Washington D.C., which does the lobbying.
Working for the high-powered firm, he said, “I dealt with a lot of sharks – a lot of them. I know what I’m up against” if he wins Nov. 6.
Asked how people might help him, he said 178,000 people registered did not vote in 2016, when Faso beat the Democratic candidate Zephyr Teachout 170,000-140,000. Along with unregistered voters, there are 278,000 potential voters out there.
“Find 10 people who are not registered and get them registered,” he said.