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Audio Feature: WGXC Congressional Report

Dec 10, 2022 3:00 am

Here is this week's WGXC Congressional Report, tracking the votes, statements, positions, and campaigns of the representatives and candidates for the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st Congressional seats in New York. Current Democrat Rep. Paul Tonko, from the 20th District, votes with the positions of President Joe Biden 100 percent of the time, according to the fivethirtyeight.com website. Republican Elise Stefanik, currently representing the 21st District, votes with Biden's positions 19.3 percent of the time. Democrat Pat Ryan just began representing the 19th District, and has yet to be included in the rankings. Ryan will represent the 18th Congressional District in January, when Republican Marc Molinaro takes over representing the 19th Congressional District. Click here to listen to this report.

Kevin Frey reports in New York State of Politics speaks with Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, recently elected to represent New York’s 19th Congressional district. Republican Molinaro claims the midterm results show Americans want leaders to work together, taking away Democrats control of the House of Representatives. “It is our responsibility not only to provide the checks and balances and results here in Washington, but I think also to speak up when Albany acts in a way that New Yorkers don’t feel is appropriate for them,” Molinaro said. New York was key for Republicans flipping the House, with four districts switching from Democrats after the votes were counted. Read more about this story at New York State of Politics.

MidHudson News is reporting a group of Hudson Valley Democratic Party chairs has written to longtime state chairman Jay Jacobs asking him to implement four “common sense” reforms to increase democratic operations, provide robust supports to county committees, expand and diversify the voices involved in decision making and strengthen the party’s infrastructure ahead of the next election cycle. The general election this month saw mixed results in the Hudson Valley, ranging from successes in Ulster and Westchester counties to “disappointing outcomes” for statewide candidates in several counties as well as the loss of state legislative and congressional seats previously held by Democrats. Last week two letters were circulated — one calling on Jacobs to step down from his party leadership role and the other from county chairs offering their continued support. The members of the greater Hudson Valley coalition declined to sign onto either letter. That group wrote their own letter to Jacobs asking state leadership to convene a session of the State Democratic Committee’s executive committee before the end of the year to present, discuss, and adopt a plan to implement their reforms. The letter is signed by Columbia County Chairman Sam Hodge, Lori Torgersen of Greene County, Michael Dupree and Julie Shiroishi of Dutchess County, Kelleigh McKenzie of Ulster County and others. Read the full story at MidHudsonNews [dot] com.

Mid-Hudson News reports that while Pat Ryan currently represents the 19th Congressional District in the House of Representatives, he is about to change to the 18th Congressional District in January. Ryan won a special election in August to fill in the final weeks of Rep. Antonio Delgado's term in the 19th District, after he left to become lieutenant governor. Ryan then was elected for a full-term in the new 18th Congressional District in November, which means he switches districts in January. On Nov. 28, Ryan was more in 18th Congressional District mode, speaking just outside of West Point in support of passage of the National Defense Authorization Act. “When it comes to our veterans, our military families, we have to rise above this partisan divide we have in our country right now and come together as patriots and make sure that we deliver in keeping our country safe and supporting our troops and our military families,” he said. In particular, Ryan said $39.8 million would go toward the continuing construction of the $200 million West Point cyber and engineering center, and $1.6 million would upgrade barracks and child development centers at West Point if the National Defense Authorization Act was passed in its current state. There is also a 4.6 percent pay raise for active duty members and civilians in the bill. Read more about this story at Mid-Hudson News.

Steve Benen reports for MSNBC that Rep. Elise Stefanik is keeping up her full-throated defense of former President Donald Trump, but is so far mum on his dinner with a leading figure among white supremacists and anti-semites. After Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith to oversee the criminal investigations into Trump, the former president ordered his backers to defend him saying, “You people have to fight. You have to fight. You have to be strong.” So on Nov. 29 Stefanik told the far-right Breitbart News that, “The facts are clear: Jack Smith is compromised.... Joe Biden’s weaponized DOJ has launched an illegitimate special counsel to investigate his number one political opponent.” She said when Republicans take over the House of Representatives in January, they will launch a counter-investigation, although she did not say exactly what they would investigate. Meanwhile Stefanik is quiet so far on Trump's dinner meeting with notorious anti-Semites Kanye West and Nick Fuentes. PBS News Hour asked 57 Republican lawmakers for comment on that meeting, and Stefanik is one of many not responding with any comment about the former president meeting with fringe political figures with hateful political views. Stefanik represents the 21st Congressional District in New York that includes Rensselaer County. Read more about this story at the MSNBC website.

Carl Campanile is reporting for the New York Post Republican U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik is accusing US Postal Service workers of opening her campaign mail and stealing $20,000 in campaign checks. Stefanik, the House GOP Conference chair, made the claim in a December 1 letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. “We are writing you on behalf of our clients, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and her campaign committee, Elise for Congress, concerning the repeated, targeted theft of campaign contributions from packages sent through the United States Postal Service,” wrote attorney Michael Toner. Toner alleged that on four occasions between June and November this year, packages sent by the Elise for Congress committee containing campaign contributions were ripped open and the contents taken, while in the custody of the post office or its contractors. The attorney further alleged that in addition to the loss of campaign contributions, hundreds of Stefanik’s supporters were exposed to potential identity theft or financial fraud. It is unclear if any of the stolen checks were cashed. The U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General is investigating the mail theft, but Toner said the IG's office “... which recovered the discarded, ripped open packages in Memphis — has not returned our client’s calls.” Stefanik is demanding the postal service provide her with a full update by December 8 on what has been done to date in investigating the thefts, and what measures it will take to prevent or prosecute mail theft against her and other Americans in the future. Postal Service spokesperson Dave Partenheimer said, “We did receive a letter on December 1 from representatives of Elise for Congress and we will respond to the sender directly with our findings on this investigative matter. In matters like this, both the Postal Inspection Service and Office of Inspector General have a potential role to play.” Read the full story in the New York Post.

Kenneth C. Crowe II reports in the Times Union that the floating solar array for the Cohoes city reservoir is not in the water yet, but Rep. Paul Tonko wants to create similar projects across the nation. Tonko is introducing legislation for federal support to replicate the project. “The innovative project in Cohoes shined a light on the advantages of floating solar to reach our nation’s renewable energy goals and reduce bills for families and communities. Since the inception of this project, I’ve said that the Cohoes reservoir will serve as a model for the nation and—with my POWER our Reservoirs Act that I just introduced—it will do just that,” Tonko, a Democrat representing the 20th Congressional District, said on Dec. 2. Cohoes Mayor Bill Keeler predicts that the $5.9 million array with 8,000 solar panels will be floating in the fall of 2024 or the spring of early 2025. “We said from the start this could be a national model. We’ve been working with the congressman. He’s been super enthusiastic and a great help to us financially,” Keeler said. Tonko says a 2018 study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that deploying floating solar on the country’s more than 24,000 human-made reservoirs could save 2.1 million hectares of land and meet 10 percent of the country’s electricity needs. Solar arrays in water cost more than land-based systems, but have other benefits, including reducing algal blooms. Read the full story in the Times Union.

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