In effect, the Republican Party this season failed to field a candidate against freshman Congressman Antonio Delgado in the 19th District, which includes Otsego County.
While a contest can sharpen an incumbent’s resolve, Delgado – except for voting “aye” on impeachment – has pretty much done everything right in his first term.
First, he’s been present, holding more than two-dozen town hall meetings district-wide, including at Oneonta, Cooperstown and Cherry Valley, and showing up with his family at such places as the Cooperstown Bat Company.
He was at a poverty summit at Foothills last year, and followed up with special funding to Opportunities for Otsego. That’s one of many examples of his attentiveness.
And he’s educated himself on farming, challenges facing small business, broad-
band and other regional challenges. Most astonishingly, he has sponsored legislation of sufficient breadth to pass the Republican Senate and get signed into law by the Republican in chief.
He’s certainly earned reelection, as the Republican Party and major GOP donors seem to have concluded, too.
As of Oct. 14, Delgado had raised $5,689,567 toward his reelection. His challenger, a Poughkeepsie lawyer, Kyle Van De Water, had raised $130,381; that’s 2.3 percent of his opponent’s take.
Van de Water was further damaged, as if that were necessary, by the Ola Hawatmeh sideshow. The St. Louis fashion designer, by way of Poughkeepsie, lost the Republican primary, but continues on as an independent. Her signs are everywhere around here, compared to few to none for Van de Water.
What’s that all about?
Looking ahead, a Delgado victory may work for us in another way.
If Joe Biden wins the presidency, our junior U.S. senator, Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, has been mentioned for a Cabinet post. And Delgado’s been mentioned, if that happens, as the leading prospect to fill the Gillibrand vacancy.
Having one of two U.S. senators with such an understanding of Otsego County and the rest of the 19th as Delgado, and all the local contacts he’s developed in the past two years, can’t hurt us.
This may be his local swansong, anyhow. With New York State looking to lose two Congressional districts in next year’s redistricting, one scenario has Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney retiring, and his 18th District in the Hudson Valley being folded into Delgado’s 19th.
If that happens, it’s likely Otsego County could be folded back into a Central New York District – Democrat Anthony Brindisi’s (or Republican Claudia Tenney’s) Utica-based 22nd.
Thinking back on Sherry Boehlert’s and Mike Arcuri’s congressional tenures, that sounds pretty good. After all, the Hudson Valley is a long
PHOTOGRAPHY – 6:45 a.m. Take a camera to explore Otsego Lake at sunrise with photographer Kevin Gray providing tips on composition, lighting, more. Registration required. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1400 or visit www.fenimoreartmuseum.org
PHOTO EXCURSION – 5 p.m. Join photographer Kevin Gray for a walk through the historic village during the Golden Hour at sunset, after the museum is closed to take gorgeous photos. Gray will provide tips on composition, lighting, camera techniques, more. Cost, $17/non-member. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1450 or visit www.facebook.com/farmersmuseum/
SCIENCE TRIVIA – 7 – 9 p.m. Join AJ Read Science Discovery Center and SUNY Oneonta for 3 round game all about science. Bring your friends or play solo in this Zoom based game. Registration required. Visit www.facebook.com/AJReadSDC/ for info.
Today, lawyer and Army veteran Kyle Van De Water made it official: He plans to run against first-term Democratic Congressman Antonio Delgado in New York’s 19th District.
Van De Water has been doing what he did in Worcester last week: asking for and receiving support of most of the county committees in the nine-county district.
“With the complete support of my wife and children, our family and friends, and now the majority of the Republican county committees that make up the 19th District, I am excited to announce that I am running for Congress,” he said in a press release.
COOPERSTOWN – Joining three Republican aspirants, Steve Greenfield, New Paltz, announced this morning he will be running on the Green Party ticket this year against freshman Congressman Antonio Delgado, R-19. The 19th District includes Otsego County.
In his announcement, Greenfield said he will be among candidates who this year will provide a “referendum on war — and on fossil fuels, and denial of health care, and mass incarceration of minorities, and poverty, and all forms of inequality, and public and higher education, and on the human and environmental destruction created by non-defensive militarism and monopoly corporate profiteering.
ONEONTA – An Oneontan, Maj. Gen. Anthony German, who retired as New York State’s top military officer Feb. 2, is planning to challenge freshman Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-19, in next year’s election, county Republican chairman Vince Casale confirmed a few minutes ago.
The Times Union is reporting that German planned to file his paperwork this morning with the state Board of Elections.
Raised in Schoharie County, German graduate from SUNY Oneonta (and also is a graduate of the Naval War College.) While rising to the top of the state’s Air National Guard, and then to lead all 20,000 of New York military, Oneonta continued to be his home.
He and wife, Diana, raised four children here, Josh, Ben, Zach and Bekah.
Otsego County’s congressman, Antonio Delgado, D-19th, today announced he will serve as a member of the Small Business Committee.
The 19th Congressional District is home to over 27,000 small businesses, his office’s announcement reported.
“From simplifying bureaucracy for business owners to ensuring that they have access to federal loans and resources, serving as a member of this committee will allow me to help the small businesses that are vital to our local economy in Upstate New York,” Delgado was quoted as saying.
Amanda Boomhower of Greene County, who has held staff positions with three congressmen, will be district director in the 19th Congressional District, which includes Otsego County, Congressman-elect Antonio Delgado announced today.
She would be the point of contact for local constituents, and oversee county offices.
LOUDONVILLE – Freshman Republican Representative John Faso is ahead of his Democratic opponent Antonio Delgado by just a single point in the Siena Poll released this morning.
Forty-four percent of likely voters support Faso, 43 percent support Delgado, 6 percent are with a third-party candidate, and 7 percent are undecided, according to a new Spectrum News/Siena College poll of likely 19th Congressional District voters.
HERO RUN/WALK – 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Memorial run/walk for all the heroes who lost their lives on 9/11/01 and honoring the heroes who still answer the call. Fly Creek Volunteer Fire Company., 832 Co. Hwy. 26, Fly Creek. Visit hero5k.itsyourrace.com/event.aspx?id=6181
RODEO – 4 – 11 p.m. Support your hometown baseball team at Saturday Night Showdown. Pre-rodeo features games, food, music. Rodeo kicks off at 7, followed at 9 by party with music, cash bar, snacks. Tickets, $20/adult. Available at SFCU locations, ISD, The Shipping Room, or Online. Oneonta Outlaws, Damaschke Field, 15 James Georgeson Ave., Oneonta. 607-432-6326 or visit www.facebook.com/oneontaoutlawsbaseball/
The candidates in this fall’s campaign for Congress from Otsego County’s 19th District will be making local public appearances:
Today, Democrat Antonio Delgado will conduct a meet and greet at 7 p.m. at the Richfield Springs Public Library, 102 Main St., sponsored by the Rotary Club. Free; public welcome.
Friday, Republican John Faso, the incumbent will be in Oneonta at 5 p.m. for a fish fry to benefit Ed Telfer at the Vets’ Club, 278 Chestnut St. Telfer was injured in a motorcycle accident two weeks ago.
There was a time not so long ago when the ideal on racial issues was to be color-blind, presuming the equality of all.
When that proved not to effectively
address the underlying problem of racism, affirmative action became the order of the day. It played an important role in bringing minorities, especially blacks, out of the ghettos and into prominence in the professions, the media and middle-class life.
But, at the same time, life for most blacks in the inner cities continued to deteriorate in a downward spiral marked by increasing crime, police repression,
drugs and desperation.
This is the world which gave us rap and hip hop.
Antonio Delgado’s early hip-hop recording, “Painfully Free,” has come to dominate the opening stages of the race for the 19th Congressional District.
According to the New York Times, the lyrics of his CD, made in Los Angeles when he was 28, “include frequent use of a racial epithet common among black rappers, and criticize some of the founders as ‘dead presidents’ who ‘believe in white supremacy.’”
His opponent, Congressman Faso, was quick to jump on the issue, claiming, according to the Times, that Delgado’s lyrics are “inconsistent with the
views of the people of the 19th District and America.”
Delgado shot back at once, saying of Faso, according to the Times: “In his dated mind-set, he thinks it’s accurate to suggest that if you’re black or if you’re of a certain race, you can’t be of this community.”
In an earlier interview with his alma mater, Colgate University, reported by Hybrid Magazine, he discussed his CD, saying, “Hip Hop is misunderstood.” “Hip hop is a philosophy to live by … Hip hop is its purest form conveys the plight of the underprivileged.”
Delgado, a product of a middle-class upbringing in Schenectady, and of Colgate, Harvard Law and Oxford University, hardly grew up a desperate ghetto kid. But
he did give voice to the plight of the underprivileged, as he says, and used their idiom to do so.
The world of inner city ghettos represents a festering wound in America, and its unsettling, provocative language is an unpleasant reminder to the rest of us of a major failure of our society – something we still need to fix.
No matter how uncomfortable it makes us, we should respect not condemn hip hop for the challenge it poses.
The rappers are telling us that racism, far from being something we can ignore, has been built into our culture, and thereby into how we think.
Delgado is saying that we’re not color-blind, that we’re all racists on some level. This is meant not to condemn us, but to invite us to acknowledge a common problem, which is the first step to overcoming it – like an alcoholic admitting he or she’s an alcoholic.
Like an addict in denial, Faso pretends to be color-blind. But he betrays his own prejudices by cynically stooping to play the race card against Delgado.
I’m not a racist, he insists, but Delgado must be
because he has the audacity to remind us of the truth of our tragic history.
By insisting that Delgado’s lyrics are un-American, when they are in fact as American as apple pie, Faso only deepens the racial divide. To exploit racism for votes is despicable demagoguery.
Luckily, the voters will have a choice in November of either giving in to their racism, or beginning to
Adrian Kuzminski, retired Hartwick College philosophy professor and Sustainable Otsego moderator, resides in Fly Creek.
Get ready, folks. We’re going to be hearing a lot of hip-hop music between now and Nov. 6.
It was generally known during the just-completed primary campaign in our 19th Congressional District that the victor, Antonio Delgado, had been involved in a rap venture in Los Angeles more than a decade ago, but details were fuzzy. And they didn’t really matter: Chances were even or better that he wouldn’t win.
But June 26, he did win the nomination to challenge freshman congressman John Faso, R-Kinderhook, and it didn’t take long for the New York Post to get or, or be put on, the scent.
“He put out an 18-song CD titled ‘Painfully Free,’ in 2006,” the Post reported July 8, “in which he frequently hurls the N-word, slaps the two-party political system, rips the ‘dead’ president as ‘white supremacists,’ blasts capitalism, likens blacks to modern day slaves, calls poverty the ‘purest form of terrorism’” etc., etc.
Since, other outlets are picking up on the story, thanks to a press release from Faso saying, ““I was shocked” – shocked! – “and surprised to learn Mr. Delgado authored some very troubling and offensive song lyrics.”
On July 12, HV1.com, the website for five weeklies around Woodstock, had this: “Faso hammers Delgado on past hip-hop lyrics; Delgado says Faso’s ‘feeding into racial biases’.”
On July 14 in The Gazette, Schenectady: “Faso pivoted from carpetbagger attacks to arguing that the Schenectady native’s hip-hop lyrics ‘paint an ugly and false picture of America’.”
On July 13, the Times Herald-Record, Middletown, reported on a statement from 17 local clergy: “Shame on (Faso). This tactic should be called out for what it is: a thinly veiled racist attack for the purpose of insinuating fear in the voters of our district.”
And it’s accelerating. The fat’s on the fire.
There’s a cautionary tale here.
At the end of May, six of the seven Democrats running in the primary signed a pledge agreeing not to criticize each other.
Why, in a hard-fought campaign where candidates were having a problem differentiating themselves from everybody else in voters’ eyes, would this be desirable?
From a practical standpoint, if Delgado’s hip-hop muse had been dissected in the primary, perhaps he wouldn’t be the Democratic candidate; if he had been anyhow, the rap revelations would have been a shock to no one by now.
Yes, there are practical reasons to fully practice First Amendment Rights.
As you might expect, Delgado – a Colgate and Harvard grad, Rhodes Scholar and lawyer at a top (albeit politically connected) firm – had a smooth response to the Post.
“This is a willful and selective misreading of my work for political purposes,” he said. “My music defies the same stereotypical notions that led you … to immediately hear certain words and think they are bad or scary. If you listen to the content of the lyrics, my mission is clear.”
One review of “Painfully Free,” the 2006 CD, cited in the Post, said its “hardcore hip-hop/rap numbers tear into society hypocrisies and imperfections.” The album notes call the sound “fresh, sharp, political and spiritual” –
not so bad.
In any event, voters can decide for themselves. Go to Spotify, the music site, type in “AD the Voice,” Delgado’s stage name, and you can listen to it all.
Of course, rap itself has been controversial since it came onto the general music scene a three decades ago.
In 2012, theologian Emmett Price III sought to understand the music as part of black tradition. A reviewer of his book of essays, “The Black Church and Hip Hop Culture,” that found both the church and rap were “impassioned with the same urgent desires for survival and hope.”
Nothing the matter with that. Still, the actual lyrics in AD the Voice’s numbers will no doubt be jarring to many in the 19th. And, if the lyrics are being misinterpreted, it will be Delgado’s challenge to put them in context. He very well might.
If you haven’t met him, you will find him open, engaging, approachable; hardly threatening – “a young Barack Obama,” he was called in this newspaper a year ago after his first appearance in Oneonta. He has many strengths to bring to bear.
For Faso, this issue may seem like pure gold, and it may be. (The first radio ad, by the Congressional Leadership Fund, cited Delgado’s views as “explosive,
out of touch, liberal.”)
But given Delgado’s TV ad in a last days of the primary – a cancer victim wins Faso’s assurances he will protect her insurance, only to vote to water down the Affordable Care Act; Google “antonio delgado promise ad” – he would be wise not to be complacent, which no doubt he isn’t.
If for nothing more than the knowledge he’s gained about Otsego County and its issues in 40-some visits over the past year, Brian Flynn is the logical
candidate for local Democrats to support in the party’s 19th Congressional District primary Tuesday, June 26. The polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m.
Absent someone actually from Otsego County – Cooperstown’s Erin Collier was an attractive entry, but it appears she got involved too late to gain sufficient traction – we need a candidate in a Hudson-Valley-heavy field who cares about Oneonta and Greater Cooperstown.
We also need a congressman who’s strategic, and Flynn has proved he is: By focusing on Otsego, plus Schoharie and Delaware, while others ignored us, he may have carved out the relatively few votes, perhaps as few as 4,500, to win in the seven-person race.
Flynn has also sought out key local folks for his campaign staff, including the brainy Leslie Berliant, who ran for county rep from the Town of Middlefield last fall, and MacGuire Benton of Cooperstown, former Otsego County Young Democrats’ president. Clark Oliver of Oneonta, Benton’s successor at the YDs, was also on the staff for a while.
And Flynn’s also courted and largely won over most of the county’s top Democrats, from county Rep. Gary Koutnik, Oneonta, the ranking Democrat on the county board, to activists Deb Marcus of Oneonta and Melinda Hardin of Cooperstown, to the potent Sustainable Otsego leadership.
(Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig, referred to Jeff Beals by a cousin’s wife – no, Beals is not the mayor’s cousin – has been the odd man out in supporting the Woodstock teacher-by-way-of-the-CIA.)
Flynn, while he’s only lived fulltime in the 19th for less than two years – with wife Amy and children Bo, 14, and Heddah, 10 – he has roots, and family roots. He has owned that home in Hunter in Greene County’s ski country for the past 13 years (and bought the property 15 years ago, after a fire, and rebuilt it.) And his grandfather was a bartender and grandmother a chambermaid in Catskill hotels. The Michael J. Quill Irish Cultural Center in East Durham, on the road from Cobleskill to Catskill, is named after a great uncle.
Moreover, he’s got the energy, the brains, an engaging personality, the high-level contacts – his partner in Schlossberg:Flynn, an investment firm, is Caroline Kennedy’s husband, Ed – and the money – both he and big-firm lawyer Antonio Delgado have raised almost $1 million – to win, and this should matter to Democrats.
Whether it should matter to the rest of us remains to be seen, as Flynn and our current congressman, Albany veteran John Faso, R-Kinderhook, sharpen their focus on the issues from the end of June to November.
As we’ve noted here before, Faso would be unobjectionable in normal times; he’s done what a congressman who wants to make a difference would normally do: Get key committee posts, cleave to the party line, but break with the party when sensible, on the merits and on the politics, to do so.
Both of these candidates could
capture the middle, and thus win.
But as Nov. 6 approaches, if it appears – as historical precedence suggests it might – that the House of Representatives will be recaptured overwhelmingly by the Democrats, then a switch to Flynn might make sense.
For now, Brian Flynn, who has gotten to know Otsego County, and vice versa, is the clear and best choice for local Democrats.
A strong turnout – even better, one that clearly is the clear factor in his nomination next Tuesday – would
lock in that relationship for the
benefit of both.