NY-19: Rhodes Gets Kingston Dem Chair Endorsement

Congressional hopeful Gareth Rhodes on Monday was endorsed by the chairman of the Kingston Democratic Committee, his campaign announced.

“Born in Kingston and raised in Ulster County, Gareth is the true homegrown candidate that can win in NY-19,” said Joe Donaldson, the committee’s chairman.

“He understands the hopes and needs of NY-19, and will work tirelessly for our communities. Since launching his campaign, Gareth has gone door-to-door to support dozens of our local candidates. He has demonstrated a clear commitment not only to his future constituents, but also to building future bridges to strengthen local parties – exactly what we need from our next member of Congress. Gareth’s progressive values, government experience, working class background, and grassroots approach to visit all 163 towns in NY-19 is how we’ll win this race and bring our voices to Washington.”

Rhodes, a former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is among a crowded field seeking the Democratic nod to take on Republican Rep. John Faso in the 19th congressional district, considered a key battleground race this year that could tip control of the House of Representatives.

“I was born in Kingston at Benedictine Hospital, and it is a tremendous honor to earn the support of Joe Donaldson, a friend and a real leader in my home city,” Rhodes said. “For years, I’ve admired Joe’s approach to public service, working tirelessly to elect candidates who will stand up and fight for working class and progressive values. I look forward to working closely with Joe and the Kingston City Democratic Committee to win this race and restore a government committed to serving the people of NY-19.”

NY-19: Rhodes Plans RV Tour

From the Morning Memo:

Democratic congressional candidate Gareth Rhodes on Tuesday is kicking of an RV tour — a “Rhodes Trip” he’s dubbed it — of the sprawling 19th congressional district in the Hudson Valley.

Rhodes is among the crowded field of Democratic candidates in the House district seeking to take on Republican Rep. John Faso next year in what is expected to be a battleground race.

Rhodes plans to travel to all 163 towns and cities in the district in a 1999 Ford Winnebago RV.

“I believe anyone who wants to represent this community in Congress owes the respect to look every person here in NY-19 in the eye,” Rhodes said. “Listen to your hopes and concerns. Earn your trust and answer the tough questions,” Gareth Rhodes said. “So I’m hitting the road and am going to all 163 towns and cities in NY-19 to do what our current member of Congress refuses to: have the respect to show up and listen to your hopes, your concerns, your ideas, and share my vision for the future of this community.”

He’s not the first candidate for office to go with the RV approach. Rhdoes’s former boss, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, traveled in an RV to tour upstate New York during his campaign for governor in 2010.

“Between now and Election Day, I’ll be coming to you,” Rhodes said. “And unlike John Faso and the typical politicians that only show up in your mailbox or on your TV, I’ll be there in person. At your door, your local diner, your farm, your firehouse, talking about why I’m so hopeful for our future. And this “Rhodes Trip” isn’t just a one-time effort. Once elected to Congress, I pledge to travel to all 163 towns and cities in NY-19 every year.”

And in a district that has seen its share of Democratic candidates with tenuous ties to the area, Democratic political observer Bruce Gyory said Rhodes’s trip is a good idea.

“The last two cycles Democrats were hurt by the carpetbagger charges ef‎fectively leveled by the GOP against Eldridge and Teachout,” Gyory said. “Rhodes grew up in the district and this tour underscores those roots. What may be dismissed as a stunt by some may appear to voters as a marker for hard work and a dogged campaign style. The enduring impact of the tour will likely be driven by what comes after it is over.”

Stefanik Backs Trump’s Health Care Executive Order

Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik praised the executive order issued Thursday by President Donald Trump that is designed to loosen some regulations for the Affordable Care Act.

The move is aimed at allowing some people to purchase cheaper plans with less coverage and pool coverage in groups after Republicans in Congress failed to agree on a plan that would repeal or overhaul the law, known as Obamacare.

However, some worry the move could place sicker people into more expensive plans and driving up costs in the process.

“Families and businesses in my district deserve more choice in healthcare, and I applaud these efforts to lower costs,” Stefanik said in a statement. “Allowing employers to pool together and purchase insurance across state lines is commonsense and will allow more people to access affordable coverage. I will continue to work in Congress on bipartisan healthcare solutions to help lower costs, increase access and improve quality.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in a series of statements knocked individual Republicans in the House over the issue.

“Rep. Elise Stefanik and the do-nothing Republican Congress has failed to do anything to address the rising cost of healthcare or the instability in healthcare markets created by President Trump’s erratic behavior and reckless executive order,” said DCCC spokesman Evan Lukaske. “Elise Stefanik should put politics aside and work with Democrats to make healthcare more affordable or be ready for voters to show her the door in 2018.”

The full impact of the executive order is not expected to be fully phased in for several weeks, if not months.

NY-19: Delgado Raises $400K

Democratic congressional hopeful Antonio Delgado’s campaign announced this week he had raised more than $400,000 in the third quarter reporting period this year.

Delgado is among the Democrats in the crowded field for the 19th congressional district in the Hudson Valley who are vying to take on Republican Rep. John Faso.

“The energy in the Hudson Valley and Catskills region is incredible,” Delgado said, “and it’s clear that people are ready to elect new leadership to Washington DC. I spent the summer traveling across the district, and no matter where I go, be it Bagel Fest in Sullivan County, a forum in Delaware County, a dairy farm in Schoharie, or a meet and greet right near my home in Rhinebeck, I hear similar stories.”

Delgado’s total fundraising puts him at more than $1 million raised since February.

“These are stories of people who once had good middle class jobs, like my parents had, but lost ground when big employers like GE and IBM left the area,” Delgado said. “Good people who deserve opportunities to support themselves and live a secure, safe, healthy life right here in the Hudson Valley and Catskills. We need leaders who work to make that a reality, and I will continue to work hard to earn the support of the people of NY-19.”

NY-19: Clegg Reports $220K Raised

Democratic congressional candidate Dave Clegg on Thursday reported having raised $220,000 in his bid for the Hudson Valley House seat held by Republican Rep. John Faso.

Clegg has $180,000 in cash on hand amid his first fundraising quarter of being in the race.

“John Faso first voted to make healthcare unaffordable for more than 20 million Americans and now his party is trying to jam through tax cuts for the top 1%,” Clegg said in a statement. “It’s time we stood up for the little guy again and focus on growing our economy so that it works for everyone.”

Clegg is one of a more than a half dozen Democrats vying for the nomination to take on Faso in the battleground 19th congressional district next year.

Clegg lives in Woodstock and has worked as a civil rights attorney and serves as chair of the Ulster County Human Rights Commission. His campaign touted his having lived in the district for the last 35 years.

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.