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Marc Molinaro leads race for Antonio Delgado’s House seat

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s decision to tap Antonio Delgado as her replacement lieutenant governor could cost Democrats a House seat, according to a new poll.

Republican Marc Molinaro is the favorite to capture Democrat Delgado’s vacated upstate congressional seat, the Triton Polling & Research for Freedom Council USA poll released Tuesday claims.

Molinaro, the current Dutchess County executive and 2018 GOP candidate for governor, leads Democratic Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan 51.6% to 38.4%, the survey found.

The automated phone poll queried 505 voters from June 16-20 and has a 4.4 percentage point margin of error.

Hochul needed to replace her first choice for No. 2, Brian Benjamin, after he was indicted on federal corruption charges, that had been hinted at before she chose him.

The special election will be held on Aug. 23 under current lines for the 19th congressional district.

The current 19th CD takes in much of the Hudson Valley including Dutchess, Ulster and Columbia counties and parts of the Catskills.

But the victor will have to run under revised court-ordered redistricting lines for the 19th congressional district in the fall. Judges tossed out the previously Democratic-drawn House maps as unconstitutional gerrymandering, which Republican critics called the “Hochulmander” because Gov. Kathy Hochul approved them.

Republican Marc Molinaro leads the race for Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado’s vacated House seat, a poll says.
MarcMolinaroNY/Facebook

Still, Democrats face potential embarrassment if they lose the Delgado seat.

The race could also be a bellwether of what happens in the fall as Democrats get ready to defend their slim majority in the US House — reinforcing perceptions along the way that Delgado didn’t seek re-election because of concerns he couldn’t hold on to the purple seat.

“We don’t take strategic cues from a polling firm we’ve never ever heard of, is funded by extreme right wing Republicans, and is focused on electing our opponent,” Ryan spokesman Chris Walsh said in a statement.

A representative of Triton Polling & Research could not be reached for comment by publication time.

The poll showed Molinaro with higher name recognition than Ryan, with more voters having an unfavorable and unfavorable opinion of him and fewer undecided.

Ryan and Molinaro are both running in two elections this year.

The first is the special election for the remaining time on Delgado’s term while they run in separate districts for full terms in Congress this November.

Molinaro is running for a newly drawn version of the 19th while Ryan is competing for he newly drawn 18th district to the south against another Republican candidate.

Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado
Antonio Delgado was appointed to lieutenant governor by Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Lev Radin/Pacific Press/Shutterstock

“The approach I take is showing up everywhere. That’s what we’ve been doing. That’s what we’re gonna continue to do. And in just a few weeks, we’ve been all over the place,” Ryan told the Post on June 16.

But a Post review of recent campaign events suggests Molinaro has the edge against Ryan when it comes to reaching voters across the current version of the far flung 19th District.

The Republican has held more at least 31 public events in both his races in between May 23 and June 18, records show.

Ryan by contrast appears to have attended at least 16 public events in that same period.

The bulk of Ryan’s appearance have been in the areas of overlap between the current 19th District and the future 18th District in the Hudson Valley.

Molinaro has also stumped for votes in voter-rich places like Rensselaer County where Ryan has yet to make official campaign appearances, according to records.

Ryan told the Post that his time as a local government official and unsuccessful 2018 campaign against Delgado will help him reach areas of the district that he has yet to visit during the current campaign.

Kathy Hochul
Hochul appointed Delgado after previous LG Brian Benjamin was indicted on federal corruption charges.
Robert Miller

“My relationships across this district are long-standing and deep and if there’s any town I haven’t been to yet, in just a few weeks, I will certainly be getting to as many towns I can – certainly every county — as the campaign continues,” Ryan said.

One New York Democratic Party insider suggested the West Point grad might be leveraging his candidacy in the special election to help fundraise to win a full term in the newly-drawn 18th District.

 “It’s the worst kept secret in New York that Pat Ryan is throwing the special election and handing the race to Molinaro,” the source claimed.

But Ryan has told the Post that he is running to win elections in both districts.

“The fact that there are two different campaigns is just sort of the means to the end of standing up to fight for my community to fight for our country. And that’s how I’ve been talking to everybody about it,” he said in an interview. 

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