NY Governor may have just given away another Dem House seat

(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Democratic politics in New York State have been off to a rough start in 2022. When Governor Kathy Hochul selected Brian Benjamin as her Lt. Governor, he seemed to be a fairly typical choice in a state dominated by the Democratic Party. He was expected to also be her unofficial running mate in the upcoming Democratic gubernatorial primary, where Hochul will be running for a full term of her own after replacing disgraced ex-governor Andrew Cuomo. (It’s “unofficial” because voters pick the governor and lt. governor separately in New York and they don’t have to vote for the Governor’s choice.) Sadly for her, that situation only lasted for a matter of weeks before Benjamin was indicted on bribery and corruption charges and resigned from his office. This week he was removed from the ballot.

That left the slot open for someone to replace Benjamin and Hochul picked Democratic Congressman Antonio Delgado. But it was quickly pointed out that Delgado represents a marginal swing district in upstate New York. Leaving the seat vacant could open the door for yet another Republican pickup in Congress in a year where Democrats are already facing stiff headwinds if they want to hang onto their slender House majority. (NY Post)

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s selection of Rep. Antonio Delgado to replace her indicted former lieutenant governor and running mate could cost national Democrats a seat in their already razor-thin majority in the House of Representatives.

Delgado is a two-term incumbent congressman representing the 19th congressional district that includes the Mid-Hudson Valley, Catskills and other parts of upstate.

He replaces former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin, who resigned and was removed from the ballot after the feds indicted him in a pay-to-play corruption scheme. Benjamin maintains his innocence.

The intraparty fighting over this began almost immediately. Hochul’s chief opponent in the gubernatorial primary is Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi. He publicly reminded Hochul that only two months ago she had called on him to quit the governor’s race and run for reelection in his district so the Democrats’ majority in the House wouldn’t be further endangered. But now she’s turned around and done the same thing in Delgado’s district.

Of course, the hypocrisy mirror reflects in both directions here. Suozzi ignored Hochul’s demands and announced his retirement anyway. And his district is one that underwent something of a miniature red wave in last November’s local elections. Republicans are already looking at Suozzi’s seat as a possible flip this November and now they will be eyeing Delgado’s district similarly.

According to the state Board of Elections, Delgado’s district currently shows a 37-28 advantage for Democrats over Republicans, with the rest being independents or voters affiliated with third parties. That’s a much narrower margin than the Democrats enjoy on a statewide basis. Joe Biden only carried the district by one percent in 2020, and that’s when Democrats were really energized to get out the vote and defeat Donald Trump. Their mood has soured considerably since then, so the potential for flipping that district red could be quite real.

Of course, none of this is set in stone yet. We don’t even know what those districts will look like by the time the primaries roll around, thanks to the Democrats’ gerrymandering fiasco. The new district maps won’t be finished for a couple more weeks. When they are announced, the race will be on to determine how the generic ballot has shifted in as many as five districts.

The irony here is found in the fact that New York’s Democrats had thought that by jamming through a wildly gerrymandered map they would be able to pick up as many as four more congressional seats in the state delegation. But now they’re looking at the increasingly real possibility that might actually lose one or more seats. I’m sure there’s a lesson in here somewhere about the need to avoid becoming too greedy.