Tuesday is Primary Day for the state's congressional races. Voting will be from 12 noon to 9 p.m. as registered members of the major parties whittle down their candidates.
The biggie around here will be the 19th Congressional District that encompasses Ulster County alongside Sullivan, Greene, Columbia and much of Dutchess and several farther Upstate counties. Republican Chris Gibson, who won the district following several years of Democratic dominance (including Kirsten Gillibrand's rise to the U.S. Senate), is retiring to a teaching job... at least for now.
Vying to fill his shoes on the GOP side from a field that once held four viable candidates will be former Assembly Minority leader John Faso of Columbia County, Gibson's political mentor and a former candidate for both state comptroller and governor who's known for being a tough campaigner; and Andrew Heaney, a Dutchess County-based businessman in the home heating industry who's been trying to run to the right of his opponent with a natural tendency for campaign trail meanness.
For the Democratic nod, former gubernatorial primary candidate Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham Law School professor and author of a respected book on campaign politics, is facing Columbia County farmer and town councilman Will Yandik.
Although polls have shown Teachout and Faso way ahead of their competition, recent candidate events and word-of-mouth indicates a much tighter race on both sides, and little insight into how things might shape up come the fall.
In New York's 18th Congressional District to the south, including Orange County, incumbent Democrat Sean Maloney is running unopposed, while two candidates are vying in a GOP primary: Phil Oliva, top advisor to Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who ran against Cuomo two years ago, and right wing filmmaker and former New Jersey judge Kenneth Del Vecchio. Oliva is known for the economic and education plans he created for Astorino, while Del Vecchio moved to Orange County from New Jersey after facing conflict-of-interest charges regarding his making of opinionated films while a judge. He is the man who also moved his Hoboken International Film Festival to Middletown.
One last race with ties to the region pits local Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, whose 101st district stretches from Montgomery and Crawford through Wawarsing all the way up into Herkimer County, in a five-way race to take over the 22nd Congressional District out in Central New York. There, incumbent Richard Hanna, who defeated Tenney in a primary two years ago, is retiring with three running for his spot in the GOP primary: George Phillips, a perennial candidate against former congressman Maurice Hinchey, Syracuse businessman Steve Wells, and the woman described by many as the top conservative legislator in the state. Despite across-the-board intra-party insider opposition to her, based on the stridency of many of her platforms and actions, odds are on the expected winner of a Democratic primary, Broome County legislator and Dick's Sporting Goods heir Kim Myers, to win in November.