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EDITORIAL: Delgado for Congress

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WHEN REPRESENTATIVE ANTONIO DELGADO describes the 19th District as the “eighth most rural congressional district in the U.S., he’s not kidding. The district may cover all or parts of 11 counties, including all of Columbia, but you don’t have to spend much time here to appreciate the margin by which trees outnumber voters.

He’s seen a lot of them—trees and voters—in his first term, even though almost half of that term, which began in January 2019, has been overshadowed by the pandemic. He’s now running for a second term against three opponents. He has a record that speaks of the type of congressman he’s been and what he’s likely to accomplish if reelected.

Mr. Delgado is a Democrat who will also appear on the Working Families and Serve America Movement ballot lines. He faces Republican Kyle Van De Water, Green Party candidate Steven Greenfield and Libertarian Party candidate Victoria N. Alexander. Recently there was a broadcast debate between Rep. Delgado and Mr. Van De Water; the other two candidates were not present.

Neither major party has a majority in the 19th District, but Democrats hold the plurality, with 168,639 registered voters, followed by Republicans with 149,854 as of the most recent voter data. The third largest voting bloc comprises all those registered voters not enrolled in any party: 128,422 people, referred to by the state as “Blanks.” But the voter rolls have changed since the last data were released in February, just as the coronavirus was beginning to dominate the news and the political agenda.

Despite what the numbers say, there’s no guarantee that the 19th District is a sure win for a Democrat. But Mr. Delgado is not just any Democrat, which became clear almost from the moment he took his oath of office in January 2019.

He quickly began to hold town-hall style meetings throughout the district. He told all those who showed up what he was doing in Washington and the district. He listened to constituents even when their words were tinged with anger. And he answered questions by… answering the questions. No pivots. Not much spin. He treated people with respect. He accepted responsibility and he and his staff followed up.

We tend to think of the partisan divide in Washington as a chasm that only the leaders of Congress and the president can—but seldom do—dare to cross. But Mr. Delgado sounds proudest when discussing three bipartisan bills he sponsored in the House that were signed into law. They help farmers facing bankruptcy and small businesses trying to ride out the pandemic.

As the threat of Covid -19 continues to loom he has adapted his public meeting schedule to an online presence, a necessary and welcome form of outreach that helps keep him in touch as we all adjust to what we hope is not the “new normal.”

Mr. Van De Water is a lawyer and a former Army officer decorated for his service in Afghanistan. Like Mr. Delgado, he has focused, mostly, on issues. As a challenger he has also tried to rattle his opponent by efforts to tie Mr. Delgado to the “far left,” whatever that means.

Mr. Delgado doesn’t take the bait. Instead he’s stayed positive. Consider his proposal for a public healthcare insurance option; it isn’t “far” anything except maybe far overdue.

Antonio Delgado has demonstrated his skills as an effective, tireless and thoughtful member of Congress. He has earned the distinction of a second term representing the 19th District of New York. Please vote for him in this election.

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