HUDSON — Katherine Clark is a retired physician and a cancer survivor who says it takes a lot to get her to leave the house, but she found her way down the road from her home Tuesday night to Columbia Street — the former location of Billy’s Italian Market — to hear, for the first time, Antonio Delgado, the Democratic candidate for the 19th Congressional District, speak at the official opening of his new campaign headquarters.
“This was the first time I heard [Delgado] speak,” Clark said after the 6 p.m. kick-off event for Delgado’s new office at 717 Columbia St. “He is charismatic and has a good energy. He could be a good leader.”
Clark is one of 1,504 Columbia County Democratic voters who backed Gareth Rhodes, the young story-telling candidate from Kerhonkson, in the primary June 26. Rhodes, who won the majority of Columbia County votes in the primary, ultimately lost the nomination to run against U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-19, in November to Delgado, who won with 8,576 votes in the primary, according to results from the state Board of Elections.
Rhodes, like other Democratic hopefuls in the primary, threw his support behind Delgado, and so are Rhodes supporters such as Clark, in the interest of flipping a toss-up congressional district that has been represented by Republicans since 2011.
“I recognize that this is one of the critical swing districts and we need to flip the district,” Clark said. “I did not vote for him in the primary and he may not be as progressive as I am, but he is now the candidate running.”
Clark, who was taking home a yard sign for Delgado’s campaign, is a strong advocate for a universal public health care system, something Delgado said during the primary campaign needs to be reached in increments, starting with maintaining the Affordable Care Act and providing a public option insurance through Medicare.
“I’d want more of a Bernie Sanders candidate,” Clark said. “But I don’t have that candidate.”
Despite differences in grades of progressive politics between Clark and Delgado, Clark said she will help Delgado’s campaign.
“This office makes it easy for me to work for him,” Clark said. “The office is right down the road from where I live.”
Verity Smith, a member of the Hudson Democratic Committee, agreed with Clark, saying the office will help her help Delgado.
“This office will make it easier to coordinate the huge amount of potential Democratic voters,” Smith said. “This will help younger people get involved, who may not know. There are a lot of progressives here.”
Columbia County has about 14,780 active voters registered with the Democratic party as of April 2018 and 12,013 active voters registered with the Republican Party, according to enrollment data from the state Board of Elections. Greene County has about 7,276 active voters registered as Democrats and 11,717 active voters registered as Republicans.
“I feel it every day, I’m out there every day, and I can’t tell you how committed people are right now to change, to making a bold statement,” Delgado said Tuesday. “We have an opportunity to make real, concrete change. We have the opportunity to put someone in Congress who really cares, who is here to do the work, who is actually here to reflect the will of the people.”
Delgado is also getting support from local Democratic officials such as Hudson 3rd Ward Supervisor Michael Chameides, who attended the Delgado campaign event Tuesday night.
“It is great to have [Delgado’s] campaign here in the city of Hudson,” Chameides said. “Our health and quality of life is very dependent on federal policy. I think he is fighting for the best interest of the people.”
Delgado and other New York Democratic candidates are looking to ride the specter, “Blue Wave,” to victory in districts that are traditional or long-time Republican-controlled.
The Blue Wave was the name of a campaign to put more Democrats in public office across the country, starting with several high profile Democratic wins in special elections earlier this year, including in New York.
The Twin Counties have not seen the full potential of a perceived Blue Wave, but saw Democratic candidates run close races with Republicans in special elections for state offices, including the race between Democratic Greene County Legislator Aidan O’Connor Jr. of Durham and Republican Schoharie Town Supervisor Chris Tague, for the 102nd Assembly District.
Tague won the special election, 9,156-8,997, and the two will meet in a rematch in November.
“We made historic progress, but we just need a little, tiny bit more,” O’Connor said about the special election at the grand opening of his Greene County headquarters in the Grandview Plaza in Catskill on Aug. 24.
As part of his speech to supporters, O’Connor said that for anything to get done in the interest of people living in the 102nd Assembly District the district needs to be represented by a Democrat. Democrats hold the majority in the state Assembly.