Flynn Formally Launches in NY-19

The candidacy of Brian Flynn, a Greene County Democrat and medical device manufacturing company president, in NY-19 next year has not exactly been a secret.

This past spring, Flynn’s name appeared on an ever-increasing list of potential candidates – I believe we’re up to eight at this point? – interested in challenging freshman Republican Rep. John Faso, whose swing district is one of the Democrats’ top targets in the upcoming midterm elections.

And over the summer, Flynn reported raising more political cash than anyone else currently in the race – even the congressman himself – though that was thanks in large part to a $500,000 loan he floated to fund his campaign. (A spokesman for Flynn said there’s no limit at this point to the amount the candidate is willing to spend on this effort, and he also has no expectation of ever being repaid).

Today, however, marks the official launch of Flynn’s bid, which he marked with a video that focuses on the tragic death of his older brother, JP, who was killed in the 1988 terrorist attack on Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and how that spurred the younger Flynn to a life of service, activism and action.

“My older brother and best friend was killed…and my mother picked up the phone, and she slammed down the phone and said: He’s dead. You look for meaning; why did this happen? Why would someone kill your brother. And I heard my brother talking to me and saying, alright, now you’re living for two of us,” an emotional Flynn recalls.

“So, I was 19 years old, and I get in the car and I drive to Washington to get justice for the victims of this terrorist attack. The government tried to tell us that it could have been an accident. But we knew right away that wasn’t true. I was just a teenager, but I learned when you see something that is wrong, you have to do something about it.”

“We fought tirelessly to get safety regulations for airlines that would prevent this kind of terrorist attack…I’ve been fighting for change ever since.”

Flynn goes on to recount his family’s history – three generations living in the Green County area – remembering that his grandfather was a bartender in Leeds, and his great-uncle Mike Quill “started the union that protected subway workers.”

There’s also some personal testimony from Flynn’s sister, Kerry Mariani, and Lynn Gaffney, identified as “a small business owner.”

The video ends with Flynn criticizing Faso for failing to “fix things” in Washington, and instead working with President Donald Trump to make things “worse” with “chaos, dysfunction, (and) hateful rhetoric.” In particular, the video cites Faso’s “yes” vote on the health care reform bill, which has been a flashpoint for the left that is organizing against the Republican lawmaker.

Flynn also launched a new campaign website today, which can be found here.

NY-19: Former Diplomat And CIA Officer Enters Race

And yet another candidate in the 19th congressional district is announcing plans to run for the seat held by Republican Rep. John Faso.

Jeff Beals, a former diplomat and CIA officer, will announce his bid for the 19th congressional district in the Hudson Valley.

“I’ve come back to the Hudson Valley after service abroad to raise my family and give back to the place that gave so much to me,” Beals said. “I was part of a generation that thought we had won the Cold War and only needed to fight for democracy overseas, but I’ve come to believe it’s even more important to defend democracy here at home.”

Beals joins a crowded Democratic field that includes Brian Flynn, Antonio Delgado and Gareth Rhodes in the battleground House district. He plans to make the announce official on Friday.

“We need to get serious about beating John Faso — our health care, the wages of our working people, and our environment all depend on the outcome of the next congressional election,” Beals said. “We’re building a people’s campaign that will fight for the causes we believe in and take that fight to the Capitol.”

NY-19: Faso Dismisses Challenge From Ex-Cuomo Aide

Republican Rep. John Faso shrugged off on Monday news of a challenge from a former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying in an interview with Spectrum News he’ll “turn to politics when the time comes.”

Gareth Rhodes is the latest Democrat to declare in the race for the 19th congressional district against Faso.

“I’m taking this step not only because we need to fight back against self-interested politicians like Faso and Trump, but because I believe we need a new generation of leaders to step up and fight for the communities that raised them,” Rhodes wrote in an essay posted to Medium.

The seat has been a hotbed for competitive congressional races since 2012. Faso first took office this year, holding the seat for the GOP against Democrat Zephyr Teachout.

“The election is about 20 months away,” Faso said. “I was just elected five months ago.”

But Faso has come under fire from liberal advocacy groups after backing the passage in the House of Representatives of the American Health Care Act, the bill that would dismantled the Affordable Care Act.

Faso has drawn the ire of Cuomo for the provision in the bill that would shift the burden of Medicaid costs from county governments to the state.

“That costs the average homeowner in Ulster County about $500 a year,” Faso said in the interview. “New York finally has to fix it and after 2020 they’ll be required to.”

At the same time, Faso is being goaded into holding a town hall event in his district. Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who represents a neighboring House district, is appearing at the event today in Faso’s district.

“This is a political exercise,” Faso said. “Unfortunately Congressman Maloney is engaged in a political stunt. This is a partisan political exercise so, no, I’m not going there.”

Faso Votes To Advance Health Care Bill

Republican Rep. John Faso voted in committee on Thursday to advance the measure replacing the Affordable Care Act out of the House Budget Committee.

Faso, during the meeting, spoke against a Democratic-backed amendment that would have prevented the replacement bill, known as the American Health Care Act, from taking effect until the federal government in the form of the Health and Human Services secretary certifies the number of uninsured people and out-of-pocket expenses would not increase and overall benefits would not declined.

In a statement during the meeting, Faso called the amendment “aspirational.”

“It doesn’t offer any specifics, it just says what they would like and what they would wish,” he said. “It is typical Washington. That’s the problem. People are sick and tired of what Washington does, which is often nothing.”

However, Faso did back a motion that recommended measures blocking funding to Planned Parenthood organizations for a year be removed from the legislation.

Faso did vote in favor of a motion to recommend that provisions related to stopping funding to Planned Parenthood affiliates for one year be taken out of the bill. He previously told Republican colleagues that it would be a “grave mistake” to include the Planned Parenthood provision in the bill.

Still, adding to the political dimension of the vote over the health care legislation, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee blasted Faso’s vote for discharging the bill from committee.

“Representative Faso is now on the record in favor of a health care bill that imposes an unfair age tax on older Americans, jacks up health insurance premiums, and rips away coverage from millions so that Faso can cut taxes for health insurance CEOs,” said DCCC spokesman Evan Lukaske. “Not only did Faso cast the deciding vote for this boardroom bailout, but he broke his promise to New York women by voting to defund Planned Parenthood. Faso now owns this debacle until Election Day.”

Faso: Some Town Hall Attendees Have A ‘Political Agenda’

Republican Rep. John Faso would not rule out holding a town hall forum at some point in the future, but insisted the event would need to be structured so that it includes a “genuine exchange.”

Interviewed on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom on Monday, the freshman lawmaker knocked some of the protesters who have attended town hall events for having a “distinct political agenda” that have disrupted the meetings.

“I don’t see any evidence of people being paid,” Faso said. “But you can look right online, there’s a national playbook of people being interested in so-called town halls and the method or approach is shut the senator or congressman down.”

Members of Congress, mostly Republicans, were flooded with protests and demonstrations at town hall-style events around the country. In some cases, the demonstrations have been organized through online forums encouraging constituents to raise concerns over the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, as well as the ties to some members of President Donald Trump’s campaign and administration to Russia.

A Faso fundraiser in Albany last week was protested by about 100 or so people.

Faso, elected last year to a battleground House district in the Hudson Valley, said he had met recently with supporters of the Affordable Care Act, business leaders concerned with the cost as well as left-leaning members of the Indivisible group and Citizen Action.

He insisted in the interview the smaller meetings are more conducive to discussing issues.

“Going in front of a hall where 500 people chant and shout is not necessarily a productive use of anyone’s time,” he said.

Faso: Town Halls Not ‘Productive’

As his colleagues receive an earful in town hall events across the country, Republican Rep. John Faso questioned why they should be held at all.

The freshman lawmaker said the events have turned into “shouting sessions” that aren’t conducive to discussing issues.

“I haven’t scheduled town halls because I’m finding if you look around the country, they really haven’t been extraordinarily productive,” Faso told Time Warner Cable News. “They’ve turned into shouting sessions and I don’t think that that kind of approach works.”

Faso was elected last year to the 19th congressional district, a Hudson Valley House seat that has been a battleground for both parties, even as the GOP has retained control of it since the 2012 round of reapportionment.

Faso’s fundraiser at the Fort Orange Club in Albany on Wednesday was the site of a protest, drawing constituents concerned with the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the alleged ties of President Donald Trump’s allies to Russia as well as other issues.

Fundraiser Held, Protesters Attend

fasoprotestInside the Fort Orange Club on Wednesday night, Rep. John Faso is holding a fundraiser.

Outside on Washington Avenue in downtown Albany, it’s a different story: More than 100 protesters with a range of issues on their minds.

“It’s politicians for sale,” said Pete Looker. “I mean, most of the people here probably can’t afford the $2,700.”

For those like Alice Malavasic, there was the concern the ties between President Donald Trump’s administration and campaign officials to Russia.

“I really want to see the House begin some investigations into the Russian connection,” she said, adding she attended the protest to provide support for her friends who were upset the Affordable Care Act could be repealed.

Faso was elected to the battleground 19th congressional district only last year. But already constituents like Wendy Dwyer are raising concerns with his voting record, especially when it comes to the environment.

“He’s already voting with the oil companies, with the billionaires and he’s not for the people,” Dwyer said. “I can see it already. I’m already upset.”

But an overarching concern for many at the protest was the planned repeal by congressional Republicans of the Affordable Care Act. Faso told us in January the law isn’t working, but is concerned with the impact of a full repeal on New York.

“I think it’s clear the ACA is not working the way it was intended,” Faso said in the January interview. “So we need to radically overhaul and reform.”

Still, others at Wednesday’s protest remain concerned with President Donald Trump, and claims he’s advanced that protests around the country are fueled by his opponents.

“They’re saying this is financed and so many of us are professional protesters,” Malavasic said. “Of course none of us are.”

The climate is not dissimilar to what happened to the political right in 2009, which launched the tea party movement. Today, it’s protesters upset with change coming again, but this time in the form of Donald Trump.

“He’s radicalizing folks who thought they would never be out marching,” said Mary Lynch, a Faso constituent. “Who never thought they’d be out calling everyday.”

Congress is on break this week, returning to their districts to protests much like this one from demonstrators concerned by a Trump presidency.

NY-19: Gillibrand Campaigns With Teachout

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Monday made a last-minute pitch for Democratic House hopeful Zephyr Teachout in her bid for the 19th congressional district.

Gillibrand represented parts of what is now the 19th district in the Hudson Valley before the 2012 round of congressional reapportionment and her elevation to the U.S. Senate in 2009 to fill the unexpired term of Hillary Clinton.

“Zephyr Teachout believes in bringing jobs home, supporting local farming, and making things in America again,” Gillibrand said in a statement.

“She understands that Congress needs more independent voices standing up to powerful interests and putting our local people and local businesses first. And Zephyr treasures this area just like I do — she knows we need to protect our clean water and fresh air, strengthen our family farms and build vibrant local economies across the Hudson Valley, Catskills and Capital Region. I urge everyone to vote for Zephyr on Election Day, because her positive vision and fierce independence can bring the change we need.”

In some respects, Gillibrand is a bridge between two factions of the Democratic Party after the Clinton campaign reached out to the senator in an effort to woo Teachout with fundraising help, hacked emails posted to Wikileaks last month showed.

Teachout, a Fordham Law School professor who ran for governor in 2014, supported Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign and later endorsed Clinton’s bid.

“Women veterans have drive, determination and incredible skills — they’re a tremendous resource for our economy and our communities. I’m dedicated to helping veterans build businesses, create jobs and expand opportunities for all of us,” said Teachout. “Senator Gillibrand has been a national leader on this, and we’re going to work together to ignite the skills and resources of veterans to explode economic growth across our region.”

Teachout faces Republican John Faso in the costly and hotly contentious battleground House race.

A TWC News/Siena College poll on Sunday showed Faso opening up a six-point lead over Teachout.

NY-19: Tonko For Teachout

Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko on Friday endorsed Zephyr Teachout’s bid for the neighboring 19th congressional district.

Tonko, who faces his own re-election for a fifth term this year against GOP candidate Joe Vitolo, praised Teachout as “an independent fighter” who can stand up to special interests.

“She understands that we need to protect our water, cut out the red tape so independent businesses can flourish, and clean up the corruption in Washington. Her positive vision for what our politics can be is a refreshing departure from the overwhelming negativity that people are sick of,” Tonko said. “I strongly endorse Zephyr for Congress because we need more people like her willing to stand up to the status quo and bring the change we need.”

Teachout is locked in a hotly contested and costly race for the Hudson Valley seat against Republican John Faso, a former state assemblyman. The district is being vacated this year by Republican Rep. Chris Gibson.

“Rebuilding our infrastructure means more good jobs for New York workers: lots of good-paying construction jobs in next few years, and a great payoff for businesses and taxpayers over the long run,” Teachout said.

NY-19: Sanders Fundraises For Teachout

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday released a fundraising email on behalf of Democratic congressional hopeful Zephyr Teachout.

“All across our country, as a result of the disastrous Supreme Court decision on Citizens United, billionaires are trying to buy elections for candidates who will represent the wealthy and the powerful,” Sanders’s email states. “To my mind, one of the most perfect demonstrations of the grotesque influence of billionaires in our democracy is what is happening with Zephyr Teachout’s race for Congress.”

Teachout had endorsed Sanders’s presidential bid during the primary over Hillary Clinton, and he has since campaigned personally in the 19th congressional district for Teachout.

In the fundraising email, Sanders notes his average small-dollar contribution during his race was $27.

“Well, Zephyr’s is even lower than that. It’s $19! What this says to me is that you have provided Zephyr Teachout with incredible grassroots support in a way that has a very good chance to help her win on Tuesday,” Sanders’s email states.

The email comes as Teachout and Republican Faso are locked in a hotly contested and expensive race for the Hudson Valley district. Republican Rep. Chris Gibson is retiring this year.