WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-19, hosted a conference call Thursday to discuss his past 23 months in office and what lies ahead in the final month of the 115th Congress, calling Republicans’ losses last month a wake-up call to the president and party.
The freshman Congressman praised President Donald Trump’s judicial picks and rollbacks on long-standing economic policies that he said are important for economic growth. But, Faso was critical of the president’s approach to trade and concerned about what fellow Republicans have called a “chaotic White House.”
The incumbent congressman, of Kinderhook, lost to Democrat Antonio Delgado, of Rhinebeck, who moved to the district in 2017. Delgado received 132,001 votes with 49.3 percent of the vote, to Faso’s 46.2 percent, or 124,408 on Election Day on Nov. 6.
“I felt I was going to win right up until 10 p.m. on election night,” Faso said. “I had told my wife earlier in the summer that if we lost 20 seats in the house, we would most likely win, and I told my wife if we lost 40 seats in the House, we would lose.”
Faso largely attributed the shift to nationwide opposition to Trump’s policies and statements.
“These are factors that are largely beyond your control,” Faso said. “In that context, I guess, I wasn’t surprised, but in the moment, you always believe you are going to win.”
Historically, the political party in the White House usually loses about 2Faso0-30 House seats in the midterm election. Republicans gained three, but lost 40 seats in the House to Democratic candidates Nov. 6. Three seats remained undecided as of Thursday.
“This is a real warning and a wake-up call to the president and administration and Republicans generally,” Faso said. “The party is in trouble and it is something that has been coming for a long time. If you look at demographics and enrollment pattern across the state… We really have to do self-analysis on this question.”
Speaking with other Republicans, Faso said, many are concerned “by the daily chaos and the personality issues that surrounded the president and the White House.”
“They wish he [Trump] wouldn’t say a lot of what he says,” the Congressman added.
After the November election, Trump called out a number of Republicans who lost their House seats and did not seek his help during their campaigns for re-election. Faso’s name was among them.
The president’s statement was unfortunate, Faso said, adding he has always vowed to support whoever was elected to become the nation’s leader.
Though Faso was not elected to a second term last month, as he looks back at his one-term holding federal office, the Congressman has remained optimistic about his role in government and his service, admitting he was successful at times, but not in others.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
As the legislative session wraps up within the next two weeks, Faso plans to return home to Kinderhook for the holidays, he said.
He and his family will decide what’s next for the former lawyer, who also served 16 years in the state Assembly representing the 102nd District and Minority Leader from 1998 to 2002.
“As to whether I do anything in the future, I literally have no idea what I am going to do in January,” Faso said. “I certainly can’t tell you what I will be doing two years from now.”
Faso and Congressman-elect Delgado have not spoken since election night, Faso said, however, their staff have been in touch to determine the logistics of the transition.
On Thursday, Faso offered Delgado a piece of advice: “Be true to your principals and let the chips fall where they may.”
At the end of the call, Faso said he disagreed with the belief that the press is the enemy of the people — a statement Trump has made at his rallies and on Twitter since his campaign.
“The press is integral part of informing citizenry and keeping government honest,” Faso said.
Throughout his term, protesters regularly gathered at Faso’s district offices in Kinderhook and Kingston to hold “Faso Fridays” — protesting issues related to immigration, funding for Planned Parenthood and Trump’s federal appointments.
“By and large, most of the folks were people that were very much opposed to President Trump and his administration and became identified with that by extension because I was a Republican,” Faso said. “Outside of that, it didn’t have a tremendous impact, although sometimes, it made it difficult sometimes to conduct business in our office.
“The people were vociferous and, by and large, respectful,” he added. “Protesting is their first amendment rights and I totally respect that. This is a divided district. A lot of people aren’t going to agree with me on some issues… They had a right to protest and make their voices heard, and I respect that.”
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