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Audio Feature: WGXC Congressional Report

Sep 24, 2022 2:00 am

Here is this week's WGXC Congressional Report, tracking the votes, statements, positions, and campaigns of the representatives and candidates for the 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 represented the 19th District, and has yet to be included in the rankings. Click here to listen to this report.

News10 in Albany reports that incumbent Democrat Paul Tonko has proposed a WMHT debate in the 20th Congressional District election this fall, and Republican challenger Liz Joy wants multiple debates. “I’m looking forward to debating Paul and our campaign is currently in discussions with multiple organizations that have proposed debates, including WMHT," Joy said. “Unlike Paul Tonko, who in 2020 refused to debate me when over 100 business owners requested a forum. We need to hear directly from Paul as to why he supports policies that are making New York unaffordable and unsafe with skyrocketing crime and weak borders allowing deadly fentanyl to flow into the country.” Because of Joy's participation in the rally in Washington D.C. Jan. 6, 2021, Tonko seems eager to debate this fall. “Those running for the people’s house should be held to account and open to public scrutiny,” said Tonko last week. “My opponent organized a bus trip to the Capitol on January 6th where police officers died, and insurrectionists tried to overturn an election. She has also expressed support for total abortion bans, even in cases of rape and incest. These are extreme views that are well out of touch with Capital Region voters, and they deserve to be scrutinized." So far, their are no specifics, except possibly using the local public television station, WHMT, as a venue. See the News10 website for more details on this story.

Leigh Ann Caldwell and Theodoric Meyer explain in The Washington Post the possible reasons why Rep. Elise Stefanik announced last week she would run again for the position of House Republican conference chair position. That would be giving herself a demotion if Republicans retake the House of Representatives, as they expect to. Stefanik would move down from the Number Three spot in House GOP leadership to Number Four in the hierarchy if Republicans are in the majority. Why? Three other Republicans recently announced they would run for the Number Three spot, as House Whip. So she would face more competition than for Conference Chair, the position she now has, with Rep. Byron Donalds from Florida as the only competition. And being whip means you have to build consensus between moderate and conservative Republicans, which is not Stefanik's specialty these days. “It's going to be a really, really difficult job,” one senior Republican aide said of the whip position. As conference chair, “you're just lobbing bombs at the administration.” And just lobbing bombs at the administration is what Stefanik is doing now, and makes her better suited to become a vice-presidential candidate for someone such as former President Donald Trump if he runs again in 2024. “Trump has encouraged Stefanik to run again, and he is very happy with the job she's done,” said a source close to Stefanik. Read the full story in The Washington Post.

Alex Gault reports for Northern New York Newspapers that the National Rifle Association has given Rep. Elise Stefanik an A plus, and given her opponent, Democrat Matt Castelli an F, and he is upset about his grade. Castelli, a former CIA officer and Director for Counterterrorism at the National Security Council who served in both the Obama and Trump White Houses, says he is a gun owner. And he says he would not support a ban on assault weapons sales that many Democrats are talking about in Congress. At a Sept. 14 town hall meeting, Castelli said he prefers legislation to keep all weapons out of the hands of those who would use them to harm others, people he defined as “cop killers, kid killers, domestic abusers and terrorists,” according to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. Castelli also says he opposes the recent gun control legislation passed in New York. He says the National Rifle Association never asked him anything about his positions on guns, and cannot understand why they would give him an F grade. “(The NRA is) misleading the public with the claim that they rank political candidates based on voting records, public statements and their response to an NRA-PVF questionnaire,” he said. “The corrupt NRA has abandoned its original values of responsible gun ownership, cut funding to gun training and safety, and now represents corporate interests, not law-abiding gun owners.” Castelli is challenging Stefanik in New York's new 21st Congressional District, which includes Rensselaer County, in the election Oct. 29 through Nov. 8. Read the full story at nny360.com.

Former Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan was sworn in as the new Congressperson in New York's 19th Congressional District on Sept. 13, and cast his first votes in the past week. The 19th Congressional District had gone months without any representation, as Antonio Delgado resigned to become lieutenant governor, and Ryan won a special election in August against Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro to fill in the final weeks of his term. Ryan's first vote, the day he was sworn in, was "To extend by 19 days the authorization for the special assessment for the Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund," which passed unanimously. On Sept. 15, Ryan voted for the Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act, which passed 221-203, and would establish, modify, and expand certain whistleblower protections for federal employees. On Sept. 19, Ryan voted for the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act, which passed 290-125. On Sept. 21, Ryan voted for the Presidential Election Reform Act, from California Democrat Zoe Lofgren and Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney, The bill would confirm that the vice president's role in overseeing the Electoral College count after each presidential election is purely ministerial, and passed by a 229-203 vote with only nine Republicans joining all Democrats with yea votes. Locally, Democrat Paul Tonko voted for those last three bills, while Republican Elise Stefanik voted against them. Go to the House of Representatives voting web page to see all of Ryan's first votes.

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