While there were many reasons for Democratic voters in the 19th Congressional District to choose Antonio Delgado as their candidate in the primary election Tuesday, two stand out.
He announced his candidacy shortly after the election of Republican John Faso, giving voters a lot of time to get to know him. And he has been the most successful in raising funds, an important consideration in a race that is already attracting a lot of Republican money.
So Delgado is in many ways a very practical choice.
He also is an inspiring one.
Raised in a working class family in Schenectady, he does not have to pretend to relate to many in the district. He’s known them all his life. Educated at Colgate University, where he earned high honors, then Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, then Harvard Law School, he has the resume that parents dream of.
Endorsed by the progressive group Citizen Action of New York and supported by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, he will bring to this race a diverse campaign team which reflects the diversity of the district.
Perhaps most important of all, however, is what did not set him apart from the other six candidates in the field. They all knew that taking this district away from the Republican Party could be the key to restoring Congress to a more humane institution, one that could get started on repairing all the damage of the past 18 months.
They also all knew that their opponent, John Faso, has taken three different positions in his short time in office.
He has backed President Trump enthusiastically most of the time. He has backed him reluctantly some of the time. He has opposed him reluctantly a few times.
All the candidates in this Democratic primary offered a different choice — an enthusiastic none of the above.
All of those policies — immigration, farming, women’s rights, the environment, gun violence, taxes — are relevant in this district. None stands out more than health care.
Faso was a key vote in early decisions. He had a chance to stop the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act several times yet chose not to. Instead, he used his newfound leverage to settle some old scores from his days as the oft-ignored leader of the Assembly in Albany, even going so far as to trade his vote in Congress for a chance to micromanage the New York state budget.
Delgado has spoken out clearly and in detail about what we need to ensure greater access to high quality health care for all Americans, supporting a steady move toward a universal system, lowering the age to qualify for Medicare and providing a public option for others to join.
That is a position both progressive and practical, one that has a lot of support in public opinion polls and that, most important of all, could get through Congress.
From now until November, the contest between Delgado and Faso will be about Donald Trump not as a person, although Faso has been very forgiving about the president’s aberrant and abhorrent behavior, but about the policies the president has pursued and that Congress and Faso have approved.