Democrat Pat Ryan was considered the underdog on Tuesday House special election for New York’s 19th District – but a combination of good timing, old-fashioned politics and favorable turnout pushed the Ulster County Executive to a surprise victory that many pundits see as an indicator of how whose November midterms could take place across the country.
“I don’t think there’s enough Pepto-Bismol in every CVS across the country to calm Republican nerves,” political consultant Bruce Gyory told the Post.
“For Ryan to hold this district in a special election is yet another indication that this midterm election is going to have some surprises and no party should be left alone,” he added.
While the pre-election polls showed Ryan lagging behind Republican Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, the Democrat, picked up a two percentage point victory in the special, held on the same day as the party primaries for Congress and the State Senate.
Ryan lost nine of 11 NY-19 counties but still got 3,000 more votes than Molinaro thanks to a cushion of 9,179 votes in Ulster County alongside a margin of victory of 2,322 votes in suburban Columbia County.
Total turnout in the special election was 25% district-wide — but was higher in the two counties Ryan won. About 70% of voters in the district also voted in 2020, while 59% voted in 2018. Only 13% of voters in Ulster County took part in the 2019 special when Ryan was first elected to office. county executive, while 29% voted on Tuesday.
Molinaro conceded defeat Wednesday while suggesting the timing of the special election contributed to his loss in the 19th District, which includes parts of the Hudson Valley and Catskills.
“We knew it was an uphill battle when the Democrats planned this special election the same day as two Democratic primaries with five candidates pushing their turnout,” he said.
Ulster County Democratic Committee Chair Kelleigh McKenzie told The Post on Wednesday that a “neighbor-to-neighbor” campaign approach helped lead loyal Democrats to the polls in the unexpected summer contest to replace the former representing Antonio Delgado, who resigned to become lieutenant governor this spring.
“We were all so excited after what happened in Kansas, and we knew we could do it here,” McKenzie said, referring to a recent anti-abortion ballot initiative that went down in flames in the Sunflower State after the Supreme Court pulled down his Roe v. Wade monument decision on the right to abortion.
“That message of hope across the country has really motivated people to walk the last mile and make those extra 200 calls and everything,” McKenzie added.
The success of NY-19 fueled hopes among Democrats that they could hold on to their slim majority in the House of Representatives, despite political headwinds like rising crime and rising prices — as well as historic trends in the middle. terms that run counter to the parties in power.
But Republicans say the special election results only reveal a lot about what will happen in November.
“It does have some significance, but I think the combination of two congressional primaries under this special plus the difficulty of sending people back in a special election in August is working against Republicans here,” the former rep said. John Faso, who lost the seat to Delgado in 2018, said Wednesday.
“The existing New York-19 has nearly 20,000 more [registered] Democrats than Republicans, so it’s a tough seat, as I can attest,” Faso added.
Ryan, who will hold the seat until the end of the year, has campaigned for abortion rights and gun control while calling Republicans like Molinaro extremists in line with the former president. Donald Trump.
Molinaro countered by pointing to inflation and bail reform as reasons voters should flip the district red for the first time since Delgado won it in 2018.
“Message: Crime is a problem of the state. Abortion – a woman’s right to choose [remains] an anchor around the Republican neck,” political consultant Hank Sheinkopf told The Post via text message Wednesday.
Republicans are hoping to bounce back and overthrow House control with a Molinaro victory in a newly redesigned District 19 – but political pundits say they better find a way to counter Democratic messages on abortion or risk lose more elections than they might otherwise win.
“The Hochulmander mess included a special election with two Democratic primaries inside, fueling one-sided turnout and massive voter confusion, but even so, Democrats only managed to hang on by a narrow margin in a blue seat that Biden won,” the Republican said. Party chairman Nick Langworthy said in a statement. “We are confident that Marc Molinaro will be elected to Congress in November.”
But political pundits say they better find a way to counter Democratic messaging on abortion or risk losing more elections than they might otherwise win.
“We are always looking for indicators to see which way the wind is blowing. And this one meets those criteria,” Larry Levy, executive dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, told The Post.
“You can rightly say it was not just a fair fight, but a determined fight over issues and I don’t think anyone can tell you that Ryan would have won two months ago.”