Ryan Edges Molinaro in Special Election To Fill Delgado's Congressional Seat
Updated: Aug 24
Josh Riley Easily Defeats Jamie Cheney In Dem Primary for 19th District
Peter Oberacker Wins Close Republican Primary Over Terry Bernardo for 51st Senatorial District
Editor's Note: This story was updated at 5:10 am ET and includes some corrections.
Democrat Pat Ryan narrowly defeated Republican Marcus Molinaro in Tuesday's special election to serve out the remainder of Antonio Delgado's term in Congress - while Josh Riley of Ithaca easily beat Jamie Cheney (Rhinebeck) in their Democratic primary for the same Congressional seat.
The results at press time are unofficial.
Riley will face off in November against Molinaro in the 19th Congressional District general election, but that will be the newly-redrawn 19th district.
The winner will join the 118th Congress on January 3, 2023.
In a press release announcing his primary victory, Riley repeated some of his messages from the primary campaign. "For too long, Upstate New Yorkers have been sold out by professional politicians and special interests," he said. "I'm running for Congress to bring change and new leadership. This is a campaign by working families, for working families, committed to bringing the high-tech jobs of the future to Upstate New York."
Riley also had kind words for his opponent. "Jamie (Cheney) is a strong, pro-choice voice and I look forward to working with her to restore Roe v Wade and win in November," he said.
In Sullivan, 3,704 ballots were cast in the Riley vs Cheney primary, with Riley winning 1,983 Sullivan votes.
Ryan, the Ulster County Executive who finished a close second behind Delgado in a field of seven during the 2018 Democratic primary, won the special election by less than 3,000 votes. His campaign messaging focused much on opposition to the Supreme Court decision which overturned Roe v Wade.
Ryan's win was based largely on heavy turnout in hometown Ulster, where he tallied 9,100 more votes than Molinaro, the Dutchess County Executive. The only other county that Ryan won was Columbia.
Molinaro beat Ryan in all the other existing 19th District counties, including Sullivan, where he received 5,196 Sullivan votes to Ryan's 3,881. (Molinaro campaigned in Sullivan on Monday and made a visit to The Center For Discovery, which he tweeted about).
But Molinaro only beat Ryan by 860 votes in hometown Dutchess County, where 25,110 votes were cast. (Dutchess is not part of the newly-redrawn 19th District map that will be used for the November general election and beyond).
At press time, Molinaro had not released a statement about the race.
But in a comment on his Facebook page Wednesday night, Molinaro wrote:
“It isn’t unheard of to wait for all the paper ballots to be considered when a race is this close. I called Pat this morning and congratulated him. That is more than I can say for any of the individuals I’ve beaten in every race I’ve had since 2006.”
The special election was triggered when Delgado vacated his seat in late May after he was appointed earlier that month by Governor Kathy Hochul to be Lt. Governor. Molinaro, of Red Hook, announced his candidacy nearly one year ago, thinking that incumbent Delgado (who lives in Rhinebeck) would be his opponent.
But so much happened in May 2022 that threw multiple monkey wrenches into the 19th District's future.
On May 3, Hochul announced the appointment of Delgado as her Lt. Governor, creating the vacancy. Then, a State Supreme Court judge in Steuben County ordered that a special master redraw the Congressional maps and the State Senate maps. That came after Republicans (led by former 19th District Congress member John Faso) in early 2022 filed a lawsuit challenging the maps that were devised by Democratic leaders in Albany.
The special election was being watched nationally by both parties, as Congressional candidates for November's midterm elections hope to use data and other voter information from the Ryan/Molinaro race that may give them an advantage over their opponents.
Meanwhile, in the State Senate's 51st Senatorial District, which Sullivan was redrawn into earlier this year, incumbent Peter Oberacker (Otsego County) won a narrow victory over Terry Bernardo in their Republican primary.
Oberacker will be challenged in November by Democrat Eric Ball (Delaware County).
Sullivan was formerly in the 42nd Senate District, where Senator Mike Martucci remains through December. But after a special master redrew the 42nd, Martucci decided not to run for re-election.
(This is a developing story)