Rep. Antonio Delgado named lieutenant governor of New York

ALBANY – Rep. Antonio Delgado, a native of the Hamilton Hill neighborhood of Schenectady and a notable former player for the Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons basketball team, was named state lieutenant governor next Tuesday by Governor Kathy Hochul , a decision that could have national implications. as Democrats seek to shore up their narrow congressional margins in this year’s midterm elections.

Hochul said she decided to appoint Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, after a rigorous vetting process, adding that the two-term congresswoman had an impressive resume and was a New Yorker through and through. who shared his values ​​and his commitment to public service.

“We share the common belief that the only reason we should be in these jobs and seeking public service is to get things done. Nothing is more important,” Hochul said at a press conference at the state Capitol.

Delgado’s nomination comes a day after Hochul signed legislation removing former state Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin from the ballot after the Harlem Democrat resigned last month following his corruption arrest.

First elected to represent the sprawling 19th congressional district in 2018, Delgado, a Rhodes Scholar and first person of color elected to represent upstate New York, helped usher in a so-called blue wave when he defeated former Rep. John Faso, R-Kinderhook, helping the Democrats secure a prominent seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The district covers portions of Rensselaer and Montgomery counties, as well as swaths of the southern portion and mid-Hudson Valley.

Delgado said he enjoys serving the people of the District, especially meeting with residents to discuss issues and sharing ideas on how to improve communities, and wants to continue doing the same work for the benefit of all New- Yorkers while helping to facilitate the healing process. associated with the pandemic.

“It’s with these experiences in mind that I just can’t help, I just can’t help but welcome with open arms the opportunity to connect with communities all across this amazing state” , did he declare. “After two years of COVID and intense isolation from others, we need to reconnect and strengthen our collective bonds as New Yorkers.”

It’s unclear when Delgado is expected to resign from Congress and whether a special election will be called to fill the seat once he steps down. Hochul said a swearing-in ceremony will likely take place within the next month.

Delgado’s nomination for lieutenant governor, a largely ceremonial post, removes him from the race for a third term in the House in what many believe will be a tight race at a time when Democrats seek to bolster their ranks in Congress. in the November elections.

But the race for the state’s 19th congressional district remains unclear after the state’s Court of Appeals rejected newly drawn political maps it says were manipulated by Democrats. New maps are expected to be redrawn in the coming weeks and the primaries for the Congressional and State Senate races have been pushed back until August, although the state is appealing the decision.

Steven Greenberg, a Siena College Research Institute pollster, said it was unclear how Delgado’s appointment as lieutenant governor would affect the race until the lines were redrawn and it was clear. who shows up. Still, he said it would be harder for Democrats to hold onto the seat without Delgado on the ballot.

“There is no doubt that no matter what this district looks like, it will be harder for Democrats to fill the seat without Delgado than it would have been with Delgado,” he said. . “Beyond that, it’s really too early to know because we don’t know what the neighborhood will look like and we don’t know who the candidates might be.”

Republican Marcus Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive and former gubernatorial candidate, planned to run against Delgado under the rejected cards.

Delgado’s appointment also comes a day after Politico announced that the U.S. Supreme Court plans to strike down abortion rights in a ruling expected in the coming weeks. The news sparked heavy criticism from Democratic lawmakers and calls from party leaders to codify abortion access into federal law.

But to do that, Democrats must retain their majority in the House and increase their ranks in the Senate, which is currently split 50-50.

When asked how she weighed national interests with those of the state when selecting Delgado to serve in her administration, Hochul said she was committed to ensuring Democrats retained their majority, but said it was important to have a strong state government, pointing to recent legislation introduced. in states across the country seeking to eliminate access to abortion and targeting the rights of the LGBTQ community.

“For a long time, the focus has been on Washington, and we’re going to continue to work to make sure there’s a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate because those are the people who deliver for us. .but we have to have the best team here too,” she said.

Delgado said he views his decision as a way to continue to serve not only the residents of the 19th congressional district, but all New Yorkers.

“The ability to continue to be with my constituents in this capacity and beyond is what fundamentally pushed me into this space,” he said.

Delgado was born and raised in Schenectady, where his parents worked for General Electric. He attended Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons Catholic School and was a star on the school’s basketball team and attended Macedonia Baptist Church in Albany.

In 2018, he tells The daily gazette that basketball was his first love. This passion led him to a few seasons of college play and a semi-pro league in Puerto Rico. He was inducted into the Upstate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018.

After graduating from high school, he attended Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, where he was awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. After returning from Oxford University, he attended Harvard Law School, where he met his wife, Lacey Schwartz. The couple have two children, twins Maxwell and Coltrane.

Delgado began practicing law in New York before eventually settling in Rhinebeck.

On Tuesday, he said his relationships with different parts of the state helped shape his views and that he was committed to bringing back jobs lost over the years, including positions at GE and IBM.

“We’ve lived and had meaningful experiences across the state, but certainly having represented upstate for the past few years and being able to do my best to understand how to address the issues that we’ve talked about, the GE and the IBMs, and finding new places to get jobs,” he said.

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said he was pleased Delgado was named lieutenant governor, noting his roots in Schenectady and his understanding of the issues facing upstate communities.

“We’re always happy to have Schenectady connections,” he said. “He will add stability to the ticket and I look forward to working with him.”

Elsewhere, the incumbent representative’s rise from the western half of Montgomery County to the state’s second-highest leadership position comes with ups and downs, according to county Democratic Party chairman Terry Bieniek. of Montgomery and Democratic County Board Commissioner. Elections.

“I see him more as a home county person as a lieutenant governor,” Bieniek said. “I’m very excited because I feel like I know him and I think he will bring a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of good to the job.”

Still, Bieniek acknowledged that Delgado’s departure could hurt the Democrats’ chances of retaining control of the 19th congressional district in November. Delgado won re-election by around 40,000 votes in a tough race against Republican Kyle Van De Water in 2020.

Bieniek hopes the state Democratic Party will be able to field a competitive candidate to run in Delgado’s place, though it’s unclear for which district.

“We are going to scramble this summer with the elections. There are more questions than answers,” Bieniek admitted. “You just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Meanwhile, Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort, a Republican, said he had a “good relationship” with Delgado and was excited to take on a new role. Still, he acknowledged his departure opened the door for Republicans to reclaim the seat.

“Any time you have a president with a low approval rating, it opens the door for the opposition party. I think we’ve seen it swing back and forth decade after decade,” Ossenfort said. “I want to try to focus on working with people on the tasks at hand and not on the politics, that’s what I’ve seen with [Delgado].”

Journalist Ashley Onyon contributed to this report.

Contact journalist Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.

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