Democratic congressional candidate Pat Ryan has won a special election to represent a hotly contested swing district in upstate New York believed by many to spearhead the Supreme Court’s abortion decision ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

In a battle between two Hudson Valley county administrators, Ryan – the acting executive director of Ulster County – defeated neighboring Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro on Tuesday night to seize control of the seat recently vacated by Democrat Antonio Delgado, who left office resigned to serve as Lieutenant Governor current Governor Kathy Hochul.

With 95 percent of the count complete, Ryan had 51.9 percent of the vote for Molinaros 48.1, the race called by the Associated Press.

For many observers, Tuesday night’s vote was largely seen as one of the first major tests of voter enthusiasm after the US Supreme Court ruled earlier this year to overturn ground-breaking abortion protections instituted under the 1973 law Roe v. calf Verdict.

Although voters in Kansas earlier this year strongly opposed a measure to remove the state’s constitutional protections against abortion, the New York vote marked the first match between a Republican and a Democrat in the wake of that decision, with the contest being held in a highly competitive district in a state where abortion is currently legal.

Pat Ryan
Democratic congressional candidate Pat Ryan meets with voters in New York’s 19th congressional district.
Photo Provided/Pat Ryan for Congress

Before the redistribution of the New Yorker 19th The Congressional District, which includes portions of New York’s Hudson Valley and the Catskill Mountains, has traditionally been considered the swing district on the state’s congressional map. President Joe Biden won the 2020 district by 2 points. Barack Obama won the district in 2008 and 2012 by a substantial margin. And in 2016, Republican President Donald Trump won the district by 7 points. However, until Delgado, the district’s voters had not elected a Democrat to represent them in Congress since Democrat John Hall won re-election in 2008.

The calculus for Democrats became even more challenging after the New York Supreme Court overturned redrawn congressional maps intended to benefit Democrats, giving Republicans a slight competitive advantage in the district.

Earlier this summer, the National Republican Congressional Committee scheduled NY-19 as one of six target seats it believed could rotate statewide. The NRCC and the Republican-leaning Congressional Leadership Fund had invested more than $1.8 million to oppose Ryan, according to campaign finance reports, an amount roughly three times the amount liberal groups have committed to attacking spend Molinaro. At the start of election night, even progressive pollster Data for Progress predicted that Molinaro — a moderate — would win by 8 points, buoyed by relatively low turnout among youngsters and college graduates, as well as an appeal to the GOP of independent voters.

But on the ground, Democrats’ enthusiasm was strong, matching a similar surge in turnout seen in other Republican-dominated districts across the country this year.

In Ulster and Dutchess counties — which provide about half of the district’s votes — early ballots weighed heavily in Ryan’s favor, while figures like Hochul traveled to the district on Monday night to mobilize Democrats to the polls. Meanwhile, district Democrats blamed divisions within the regional Republican Party and Molinaro’s unwillingness to get involved in the abortion debate as a potential boon for district Democrats, where Ryan’s campaign placed a heavy emphasis on issues such as access to abortion.

“I think there needs to be a real conversation here about the fact that voters in the Hudson River Valley are not culturally conservative like many of the voters in the other counties who have traditionally voted Republican,” said Paolo Cremidis, a former official of the New York State Democratic Party and Executive Director of the Outrun Coalition rural progressive organizing group, said news week.

“I saw a lot of democratic energy on the ground,” he added. “Molinaro’s refusal to speak about choices and other issues that are vehemently important to voters in the district right now has been something of a handicap because he’s stuck in a position where he can’t argue about choices. He couldn’t really nuance his position.” Democrat Pat Ryan wins swing district in disturbing sign for GOP on abortion

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