Otsego Countian In Congress? Nice!
If Adjutant Gen. (ret.) Anthony P. German is elected congressman from New York State’s 19th District, you can bet we will be the only district represented by someone who has an iceberg named after him. (As commander of the state’s Air National Guard, his pilots collaborated with the National Science Foundation’s Antarctica Program.)
Also, he would be the first Otsego Countian to represent us in over a century, since Republican George W. Fairchild, 1907-1919, Oneonta Herald publisher and, later, first chairman of the fledgling IBM board of directors. (As congressman, he hosted Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Taft at his mansion, now Oneonta’s Masonic Temple. Cool.)
Before him, a Republican father-son hops-growing and banking combination – two David Wilbers, also from Oneonta by way of Milford – served off and on for several terms in the second half of the 19th century.
And, of course, William Cooper, founder of Cooperstown (and The Freeman’s Journal, Hometown Oneonta’s sister publication), served two terms as a Federalist, in 1795-97 and 1799-1801.
It’s past time to get our political mojo back.
That said, German, who filed papers Wednesday, Aug. 14, with the state Board of Elections, has his work cut out for him in challenging the freshman Democrat, Antonio Delgado.
To start, two other Republicans – a Woodstock contractor and an intriguing fashion designer who just moved back from St. Louis to her native Poughkeepsie – have filed. A larger question mark, German said in an interview, is last year’s gubernatorial candidate, Mark Molinaro, who plans to run once this year’s reelection as Dutchess county executive is behind him.
Further, politics is so much more freeform than the military, with its chains of command and protocols, (although, flexibility must have been the order of the day for German in deploying troops when Hurricane Irene hit Schoharie and southern Delaware counties in 2011, and when Hurricane Sandy hit Long Island and NYC the next year.)
Further, German isn’t what you might imagine a general to be. He’s an engaging guy, youthful, full of energy, easy to talk to. You’ll like him. Going up the ranks from navigator to commander of all 16,000 of New York’s troops, he had to connect with people from privates to the commander-in-chief. He’ll be fine on the stump.
He reached out for advice to the 19th’s two former Republican congressman, Army Col. (ret.) Chris Gibson and John Faso, and reports getting a warm welcome. Gibson opened the door for German to hire his former campaign manager and other key staffers.
However, German said, before he can expect his predecessors’ endorsements, he has to prove he can raise the money, which is why he filed papers 14 months out. (By this time last cycle, six Democrats were running against Faso. By Election Day, Faso had raised $4.5 million; Delgado, $9 million.)
Money’s important, sure, but German’s got a ready-made base, not just among current and former Guardsmen and women, but in veteran posts throughout the 19th. Locally, Len Carson, a longtime commander of the Oneonta Vets Club (and currently Common Council candidate), is one of his early supporters.
That brought to mind a secret former Oneonta mayor Sam Nader (who turned 100 in July) shared regarding his successful 1960 mayoral race: The HR office at Amphenol, where he was purchasing director, provided addresses of 1,000 co-workers living in Oneonta. Bingo! Victory.
Perhaps the largest obstacle to German’s victory is his opponent. Delgado is smart, likewise engaging, hardworking and present, visiting Otsego County – through a Town Hall, and individual visit – numerous times since his election last November.
He’s on the right committees – Ag and Small Business among them. He’s stayed out of the Impeachment debate – if and when has been his stance, but not yet. He praises the 19th District voters, 96 percent white, for supporting a black candidate, and has reached out to the whole constituency, Democrat, Republican and independent.
And, when everyone’s talking about racism, hatred, misogyny, yadda, yadda (see accompanying editorial), he’s talking about Love. Love – that’s a hard issue to beat.
German seems suited by temperament to chart a similar middle course. When an Albany Times Union reporter asked him about Delgado’s earlier hip-hop career, the general replied, “Everyone was a young man at one time. That says nothing about where you are today.” Nice!
Here’s a win-win scenario. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand becomes Bernie Sanders’ or Joe Biden’s runningmate, Delgado is appointed to succeed her, and German slides into the 19th Congressional seat in November 2020.
A U.S. senator and congressman who know how to get from West Oneonta to Portlandville? And know the difference between Otsego, Otego, Oswego and Owego? That sounds like heaven.
Short of that, we can look forward to two engaging, energetic candidates debating the issues from the Hudson River to Unadilla Creek. Shortterm, that means getting Tony German on the ticket – when his website is launched in the next few days, donate.