The issue that turned a local congressional race into a national symbol of racism is still prominent on local television.
The National Republican Congressional Committee regularly points out that Anthony Delgado, the Democratic candidate in the 19th Congressional District, was once a rapper. His lyrics were provocative, obscene, critical of the way people of color have been treated throughout our history.
It seems safe to assume that Delgado’s songs have received more national attention in the past few months than they did when they were released.
The man who hopes to benefit from this, incumbent Republican John Faso, says that he has no control over ads produced by an outside group, then disingenuously says, “Mr. Delgado’s words have been an issue for some time and it is his responsibility as a candidate to answer for the controversial views he expressed and whether he continues to hold these views today.”
Faso hopes we will not remember that he was the one who made these lyrics an issue in the first place and continues to bring them up. Perhaps he also is hoping that by pointing out how little control he has over the ads, people who are bothered by this incessant racism will not blame him for it.
The original collision brought Faso to national prominence, including an editorial in The New York Times that concluded he was “race-baiting his opponent.” It brought a scathing critique from a dozen and a half members of the clergy in the area who said he was conducting “a thinly veiled, racist attack for the purpose of insinuating fear in the voters in our district.” Even one of his longtime supporters, SUNY New Paltz Prof. Gerald Benjamin, stumbled into the controversy and ended up apologizing for helping “John Faso’s divisive use of race in our local election for Congress.”
Yet he persists in this single-issue strategy while Delgado has tried to focus on the many others that matter to the people in the district, including Faso’s record of supporting the Trump administration 90 percent of the time on substantial votes.
Faso has concluded that his best hope is to scare people away from Delgado, portraying him as some sort of outsider from a place known as Schenectady which turns out on closer examination to be neither foreign nor exotic nor really that far away.
Fear can lead people to make bad decisions and Faso has reasons to be afraid. The two candidates are about even in most polls, each with a little less than 50 percent support. For Delgado, who emerged from a seven-way Democratic primary in June, that is promising, a steady rise in name-recognition and support. When an incumbent struggles to break the 50-percent barrier this late in the campaign, it’s usually a sign that he has peaked.
That explains Faso’s embrace of a tactic that so many see clearly as racist and that even some former supporters have called on him to abandon. With nothing else to run on, we can expect the attacks from Faso and the political action committees that support him to be even more nasty as November approaches.