To the Editor:
There are many fine Democrats running for Congress in the 19th District, but Pat Ryan rises above the rest. His selfless commitment to public service, deep ties to our district, and authentic support for progressive values make Pat Ryan the best champion for the working people and middle class families of our district. This year will be the first opportunity for Democrats to weigh in on the divisive policies of the current administration. We must choose wisely. If we want a representative to stand up to the president and do-nothing Congress, we must nominate a Democrat who will win in our rural and moderate swing district.
A recent poll shows Pat Ryan is the only Democratic candidate who beats the incumbent and there is good reason for that. Pat was raised in Kingston, where his mom was a teacher and his dad owned a small business. After graduating from Kingston High School, Pat Ryan attended West Point and served two tours in Iraq. There are many forms of public service to our country but few are more selfless than risking your life for our democratic values.
After Pat’s military service, he came home and, along with two women, co-founded a successful business. Of their 150 employees, over half were military veterans. Pat believes in universal health care, strong environmental protections, reducing gun violence, saving Medicare and Social Security, and building an economy that works for all of us. We live in a cynical age when too many politicians put their own personal and financial interests before their country and when our democratic rule of law and values are under attack. It’s time to send someone with integrity to Washington who will fight for what’s right and make us proud and I believe Pat Ryan is that person.
Unfortunately, we are being told this race is already over. The front page headline of last week’s edition of Hometown Oneonta and The Freeman’s Journal declared that “Top Dems Say” another Democratic candidate is preferred. The implication was that based on a limited sampling of opinion, almost entirely from Cooperstown and Oneonta, that candidate would be victorious. This is the same regrettable approach we saw during the 2016 election. Then, as now, most media failed to focus on the issues or embrace a diversity of opinion. Instead, we heard reporting on the “horse race” of who’s up and who’s down and a few well connected politicos were consulted for their opinions, which all tended to match.
While I like and respect all the individuals quoted for the article and their opinions are certainly valid, we must encourage a diversity of perspectives, hear from regular folks, and avoid the temptation to repeatedly prognosticate elections. When the media creates only an elite echo chamber and suggests that elections are foregone conclusions, it frustrates the public and depresses turnout or even creates a voter backlash. Additionally, the collective wisdom of a closed group often has limited perspective and is wrong! In 2016 our county party committee endorsed a congressional candidate with very little debate and less than a handful of dissenting votes. Despite the accepted wisdom that she was a sure winner, she lost the County by 13 points (a wider margin than Secretary Clinton).
While my analysis of the candidates has led me to support Pat Ryan, my opinion holds no greater value than the perspectives of the tens of thousands of independent thinking individuals who will be voting this month and again in the fall. Keep in mind this District is vast and largely rural and most voters have very different life experiences and opinions from those we may encounter in the distribution range of this paper. All voters matter.
My candidate selection was made just last month after a year of observing the race and after conducting an informal “focus group.” I attended the candidate forum in Delhi with 6 of my friends from Delaware County who planned to vote but had not made up their minds. All of them care deeply about their communities and the direction of our country but none are politicians or actively involved in party machinery and their names wouldn’t appear on a reporter’s rolodex. We attended the forum with open minds and afterward discussed our impressions. From our group, attendees came away supporting 3 or 4 of the candidates, none of whom were the candidate identified by this paper as the inevitable pick.
So my message to all Democrats is that this election is not predetermined and your vote is important. Please support the candidate who most closely matches your values and who you believe would most effectively represent the people of our district- Democrats, Republicans, and independents. Seek out different sources of news and speak to people who are unlike you before making your decision. I respect the opinions of my fellow Democrats who differ from me but on June 26th I plan to vote for Pat Ryan who I believe has the background, integrity, authenticity, and values to best represent us in Congress.
Town of Oneonta