Inside: In the end, minor-party candidates weren’t spoilers in 19th District
Steve Greenfield, the Green Party candidate in New York’s 19th Congressional District election last month, says final results from the race debunk the notion that thirdparty candidates would spoil the victory chances of Democrat Antonio Delgado.
Delgado, of Rhinebeck, ousted U.S. Rep. John Faso, Kinderhook, by a margin of 7,593 votes (132,001 to 124,408) in the sprawling 11-county district. Greenfield, of New Paltz, and independent candidate Diane Neal, of Hurley, received a combined 6,656 votes.
“In the absence of data supporting the traditional liberal concept of spoiling ... this data set goes a long way towards validating my longstanding observation that, as much as there are habitual Democrat and Republican voters, who run around 95 percent consistent, there is also a small percentage of habitual voters who do not choose between Democrats and Republicans, and instead leave some offices blank, vote for minor-party candidates, or write someone in, and are probably also 95 percent consistent in their habit,” Greenfield said in a written statement.
Results from the state Board of Elections show 4,745 people who cast ballots in the 19th District did not vote for any congressional candidate.
This was the fourth election in the current 19th District and the first with candidates from outside the two major parties.
Part of the current district — which includes all of Ulster, Greene and Columbia counties, most of Ducthess County and part or all of seven other counties — was in the state’s old 22nd Congressional District, which last was represented by Democrat Maurice Hinchey. That district, and the even older 26th District, had occasional minor-party candidates in elections, but Hinchey was elected 10 straight times.
Among concerns voiced by Democrats in the 19th District as early as February of this year was that Neal, who appeared on the TV crime drama “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,” would take votes away from whoever won the district’s seven-person Democratic primary, ultimately Delgado.
Concern continued late into the general election campaign. Polls used to determine who would be included in a televised debate shortly before the election showed Neal with 4.7 percent support and Greenfield with 1 percent backing, while Delgado was at 44 percent and Faso was at 43 percent.
Greenfield said Delgado’s win is a testament to hard work by the Democratic candidate and his party.
“There is ... no doubt that the Democrats did an incredible job over the last 18 months of contacting far more of their members than ever before, contacting them regularly, and impressing upon them the urgency of flipping the district,” Greenfield said. “I have never seen volunteerism among the Democrats to the degree I saw this cycle.”
JoAnne Myers, chairwoman of the Political Science Department at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, agreed the local Blue Wave was the result of strong campaigning by Democrats.
“I think that there are spoilers in a lot of races ... but in this race, I think that with Delgado and Faso, both of their campaigns did a good get-out-the-vote [effort], and I don’t think the third-party candidates had that much traction in the 19th,” Myers said.
And in the end, “I think there was a huge ‘defeat Faso’ push,” she said. “There was that sort of laser focus.”
Faso said he doesn’t believe the minor-party candidates had an impact on the race. He previously attributed his loss to broad opposition to President Donald Trump among 19th District voters.
Neither Delgado nor Neal could be reached for comment.