US House Races/New York

Report by Bruce Driver from Indivisible North Boulder.

New York is well-known for the number of individuals and parties that make the general election ballot: Greens, libertarians and others.   They don’t win, but they can take votes away from the two dominant parties or affect the outcome of a race by endorsing one of the two candidates of the major parties.

New York District 11

Candidates are Dan Donovan (incumbent R) and Max Rose (D)

Donovan, a two-term incumbent, is a lawyer with a BA in Criminal Justice from Saint John’s University and a law degree from Fordham Law School.   He has been a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, District Attorney in Richmond County (Staten Island), Deputy Borough President, Staten Island, and Chief of Staff to the Staten Island Borough President.   He has an overall moderate voting record, similar to the few other Rs elected in the NYC Metro area (See Leonard Lance, NJ District 07.)    He voted for both immigration bills that went down last week in Congress.  He voted for amendments to Dodd-Frank.   He supported the Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution and also the Omnibus Spending bill (two seemingly inconsistent positions).  Yet, he was a “no” on the tax-cut bill of 2017, on the concealed-carry legislation, on diverting federal funds from sanctuary cities and on the Rs’ substitute for Obamacare.  He was a “yes” on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and on disapproval the Obama Stream Protection rule.   He has voted with Trump 87% of the time.  He says he is grateful for Trump’s support in the recent primary, which helped him beat a prior congressman/convicted felon trying to make a comeback.  Significant supporters to his campaign committee are mainly businesses and include a wide array of NYC-based companies, a union, Bloomberg LP and others.   He had $537,000 cash on hand in early June.

This is Rose’s first attempt to win public office.   He has a BA in History From Wesleyan and an MSC in Philosophy/Public Policy from the London School of Economics.   He is an Infantry Company Commander in the National Guard, has been Chief of Staff at an 800-employee health services company in NYC, was former Special Assistant to a Brooklyn District Attorney and served in the US Army, including in Afghanistan, where he earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.   He won his five-person primary overwhelmingly.   On Guns, he wants to ban assault weapons, extend background checks, close the “boyfriend loophole,” stop criminals and domestic abusers from buying guns and implement an extreme-risk policy.  On Healthcare, he supports the creation of a public option, lowering the age of Medicare to 55, continuing to fund Planned Parenthood and protecting a woman’s right to choose.   He opposes the R’s tax-cut bill of 2017, wants to raise the tax on long-term capital gains, close the carried interest loophole and raise the floor on the Alternative Minimum Tax.  He wants a better parental leave policy and equal pay for equal work, criminal justice reform, comprehensive immigration reform, protection of DACA recipients, protection of the right to vote and provision of sufficient resources to district attorneys so they may prosecute animal abuse.   His donors include a wide range of interests, none of which have given very large amounts, including Omnicom Corp., Facebook, Bain Capital and She Said/She Said LLC.   He had $1.078 million cash on hand in early June.

Description of District:  This is Staten Island and parts of southern Brooklyn and Bensonhurst.  It is about three-quarters White, with significant populations of Blacks, Asians and Hispanics.   Among the Whites, many are Italian-American, Irish-American and Jewish.   This district is the only district in New York City that is held by an R.   It has an HMI of $71,000, making it a relatively wealthy district.  Trump beat Hillary here by 10 points.   Cook gives it an R+3 PVI and rates the race this fall as “lean R.”

Summary: From what I can tell of Rose, he is a tough and smart progressive, jumping all over Donovan as soon as Rose won his primary and with well-explained positions on his website.   However, Donovan is the incumbent, has Trump’s support and is moderate when compared with most Rs.   This will do him well in Staten Island.   But Rose has about twice as much money as Donovan, although Donovan should narrow this gap given his business support.   Rose has a decent chance, is a D and would make a good member of the House.

New York District 19

Candidates are John Faso (incumbent R) and Antonio Delgado (D)

Faso is a one-term incumbent.   He has a BA from SUNY-Brockport and a JD from Georgetown Law School.   He was a Member of the NY State Assembly for 16 years and is a partner of Manatt Phelps, a large LA-based law firm.   While he has voted with Trump 89% of the time, he occasionally takes the other side, as in his vote against the tax-cut bill of 2017, and he opposes Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs.   He voted for the “compromise” immigration bill last week but against the Goodlatte conservative bill.   He voted for the Balanced Budget amendment to the Constitution, for concealed-carry reciprocity, for the Omnibus spending bill, for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, for deferring federal funds from sanctuary cities and for overturning Obama’s stream protection rule.   He also voted to repeal Obamacare but against the proposal to postpone the 2015 ozone abatement rule.   He has a lifetime rating of 93% from the NRA.   I’d say that he is a moderate conservative.   His donors include John Bolton PAC, Koch Industries, Blackstone Group and More Conservative PAC.   He had $1.1 million cash on hand in early June.

Delgado, African-American, has a BA in Philosophy and Political Science from Colgate, an M. Phil. From Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.   He has been Counsel to Akin Gump, a powerful D.C.-based law firm, and Co-Chief Executive of an entertainment firm.   His web-page describes a solid progressive if, sometimes, it is a little vague about what he would do in Congress.   Jobs and economic growth are a priority, especially working to support small business and to increase the minimum wage.  On Education, he says he  will work to expand Pell Grants and support trade school and apprenticeships, since, he says, college is not the only way to gain economic security.   He disagrees with Trump’s plan to “privatize” investment in infrastructure and touts the need for rural broadband.   He describes the positive relationship between a clean environment and the district’s economy.   He wants to give all Americans the choice to buy into Medicare or Medicaid and to give Medicare the authority to negotiate for lower drug prices.   He is pro-choice, for equal pay for equal work and for funding Planned Parenthood.   He opposes the tax-cut bill of 2017.   He says he is generally supportive of immigrants, but there are few details how.   He wants to treat drug addicts, not criminalize them.   On Guns, he is pro-regulation, but does not quite say he wants to abolish assault rifles.  He believes his district’s agricultural base has great promise but that it needs more infrastructure.   He has many donors, including one very large donation from his former law firm, Akin Gump and much smaller, but not insubstantial, donations from other large law firms, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.   He had $759,000 cash on hand in early June.

Description of District  This is a large district in the Hudson River Valley north of the NYC Metro area and south of Albany.   It is larger than Connecticut and Delaware combined and  borders Pennsylvania to the SW and Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the East.   It includes the towns of Cooperstown, Plattesville and Woodstock and is largely rural, encompassing the Catskill Mountains.   I did not find an ethnic breakdown for the district, but it is safe to assume that it is largely White.   It has an HMI of $55,000, putting it in the middle of districts around the U.S. that I have analyzed.   It is diverse, containing horse farms and art galleries as well as monster-truck pulls.   It has a Cook PVI of R+2, and Cook rates this fall’s race as a “toss-up.”   Pundits say this is one of the nation’s major political battlegrounds this year, targeted by both parties.

Summary: Obviously, Delgado is the progressive in the race.   He also appears to have the charisma and smarts to beat Faso, who usually sides with Trump.   Delgado will scare business interests and so I expect they’ll push money at Faso and criticize Delgado.   Delgado has some strong backing from economic interests, especially law firms, but he will need help.

New York District 22

Candidates are Claudia Tenney (incumbent R) and Anthony Brindisi (D)

Tenney, a one-term incumbent, is media-savvy and an unapologetic and confrontational fan of Trump.   She has voted with him 97% of the time and has said that members of Congress who did not applaud for Trump during his State of the Union address this year are “un-American.”   She is also very partisan, saying, right after the Parkland shootings and without evidence, that “many of the people who commit mass murders turn out to be Democrats.”  She has a Bachelor’s degree from Colgate and a law degree from the University of Cincinnati, has been a co-host of two radio/TV shows in the area, has practiced law and founded a media company.  She promised that she would not vote for “any additional spending that adds to the debt,” then voted for the Omnibus spending bill that added $1.5 trillion to the debt.   She also voted for the tax-cut bill that also added $1.5 trillion to the debt.   She voted for the conservative Goodlatte immigration bill but against the “compromise.”   She supports concealed-carry reciprocity, voted for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, voted to repeal Obamacare, appears to be a Second Amendment absolutist, is against “amnesty” for immigrants, voted to withhold federal funding for sanctuary cities, for postponing compliance with the federal ozone rule and for disapproving Obama’s stream protection rule.   Her donors gave her many smallish contributions, from PACS, businesses and some individuals.  She had $785,000 cash on hand in early June.

Brindisi is a 39-year old lawyer who has been serving in the New York State Assembly since 2012.   He has a BS in History from Siena College and a law degree from Albany Law School.   His website addresses most of the key issues, but his positions are often general and noteworthy for what he does not say.   His priority issue appears to be public education: He wants to avoid funds for public education from being siphoned off to for-profit schools, wants to boost support for vocational and other non-college alternatives; and wants to lessen the burden of student-loan debt.  On Healthcare, he decries the Rs’ attempt to repeal Obamacare and believes we must negotiate drug prices.  On the Economy, he wants government to be a partner with entrepreneurs, build more infrastructure, and keep taxes low.   He is very much against privatization of Social Security and Medicare and would oppose balancing the budget by reducing these programs.   He believes climate change is real, and that his district would benefit from investment in clean energy.   He will not accept money from corporate PACs and wants to end Citizens United.  On Women, he wants equal pay for equal work and would oppose cuts to Planned Parenthood.   Guns have been an Achilles heel for him among Democrats (but maybe not overall in his district).   He voted against NY’s SAFE Act, the state’s comprehensive gun regulatory program, and has tried to amend it in relatively small ways when repeal was unachievable.   He says he wants universal background checks and to deal with bump stocks.   He says he will never take money from the NRA, but he got a 100% rating from the NRA in 2016.   His contributors, all but three at $10,000 or lower, include several unions, the League of Conservation Voters and other non-profits, SUNY and Hamilton College.   He had $1.2 million cash on hand in early June.

Description of District This is a long, skinny district in central New York, extending from Lake Ontario in the North to the boundary with Pennsylvania on the South.   It is mostly rural but contains the cities of Utica, Rome and Binghamton.   It is said to be 91% White, 3% Black, 2% Asian and 3% Hispanic.  Trump beat Hillary by 16 points in 2016.   Its Cook PVI is R+6.   Cook estimates this race as a “toss-up,” and like District 19, it has been targeted by both parties.

Summary:  Tenney is a Trump clone, voting with him and adopting his nasty tactics.   Brindisi seems a centrist D in a district that recently is strongly R.   No question who is the superior candidate from our perspective.   It would be nice to take Tenney out this fall.  Brindisi appears to have the support to do so, having out-raised Tenney by a wide margin in recent months.

New York District 24

Candidates are John Katko (incumbent R) and Dana Balter (D)

Katko is a two-term incumbent with a degree in Political Science from Niagara University and a law degree from Syracuse University’s School of Law.   He was a Prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice for 20 years, holding positions as Narcotics Chief and Coordinator of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.   In Congress he voted last week for the “compromise” immigration bill but against the Goodlatte conservative bill.   He voted for the Omnibus spending bill, for a Balanced Budget amendment to the Constitution, for the tax-cut legislation of 2017, for concealed-carry reciprocity, for Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, for delay of federal ozone standards, for withdrawing federal funds from sanctuary cities, yes on disapproval of Obama’s stream protection rule but no on the Rs’ substitute for Obamacare, saying that he could not vote to repeal Obamacare without an alternative plan.   He says he is pro-life but is not against birth control.  He favors an all-of-the-above energy policy.   He voted against the Clean Power Plan, but also voted against a bill providing for no GHG standards for power plants.  On Guns, he favors red-flag laws, banning bump stocks and fixing the background check system.   He voted with Trump 89% of the time.  He is what passes for a moderate conservative in the age of Trump.  His contributors include leadership PACs (the largest), real estate, air transport and insurance.   He had $1.3 million cash on hand in early June.

While she gains her Ph.D at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, Balter is a teaching assistant at that school.   She has a BS from Northwestern University in Speech Communication and an MPA in Education Policy Analysis and Privatization from the University of Connecticut.   She had to drop out of the Maxwell School for almost eight years while fighting a “debilitating physical illness,” about which I could find nothing on line.   Before that, she was a special education teacher, and then worked in administration, at a school for adults with cognitive disabilities.   She also worked to organize the Central New York Solidarity Coalition, a grassroots group which says it is dedicated to protecting central New Yorkers against the policies of Trump.   Her website says that she believes that healthcare is a fundamental human right and that she supports Medicare for All.   She wants to build a “green economy” in central New York.   She favors criminal justice reform, in particular mental health care and job training in prisons.  She supports a carbon tax, movement toward 100% renewable resources and reinstatement of environmental protections rolled back by Congress.  She is a big supporter of public education, wants to revitalize civics instruction and make available universal pre-K classes.   There is not much on guns, immigration or womens’ rights on her website, but she is pro-choice.   The DCCC supported her primary opponent whom Balter beat by 25 points.   Syracuse University is her largest donor at $17,600.   Most of the rest of her donors look like small businesses and a couple of law firms.   She had $101,000 cash on hand in early June.

Description of District  This district is in West Central New York.   It has a long border with Lake Ontario then goes south and east to include Syracuse, by far the biggest city in the district.   It also includes Oswego to the NE.  Its HMI (household median income) is $52,000.   Hillary beat Trump by 4 points in 2016, and the district has a Cook PVI of D+3, yet Cook rates the race as “likely R.”

Summary: Even though this district has a Cook PVI of D+3, this looks like a tough, uphill fight for Balter.   Katko has more than 10 times the cash than Balter.   Katko seems relatively popular and has had more exposure than Balter to most of the issues that the next Representative will face in Congress.   But Balter is the progressive in the race.