In the New York House of Representatives contest, only one Democrat managed to break the Republican wave that swept through the state in this election cycle.
That Demem was Pat Ryan, a war veteran who won a victory against Republican Assembly member Colin Schmitt.
Now that Democrats are torture the d*aths of their poor performance in New York State – a show that is even more painful compared to the negative results they had in much of the country – political observers turn to Congressional 18 to understand why Ryan won when the other Democrats weren’t so lucky.
Ryan, the former Ulster County director, had a few things for him.
While the redistribution process confused many Democrats, he could benefit from it. In August, he won a special election to replace former representative Antonio Delgado, who had vacated his position to take up the position of Lieutenant Governor. It was in the 19th congressional district.
A redistribution that takes place every 10 years after each census has moved parts of the nineteenth district, such as Kingston City, to the eighteenth – and that’s where Ryan chose to run.
For Ryan, this meant two congress runs in quick succession, keeping his name first and the spotlight on those who already knew him.
“The voters knew him. They voted for him before and liked him, ”said longtime Democrat strategist Hank Sheinkopf.
Like every Democrat in New York State, Ryan had to counter the Republican-led narrative that democratic control led to an increase in crime – even though Republican-led areas also witnessed similar increases in crime. Even so, many Democrats in New York were still surprised.
Ryan wasn’t. His West Point graduate and military veteran status gave him credibility in public safety – as did his track record as Ulster County Director.
“A lot of people think the veterans and law enforcement are in the same party, which is simply not true,” said Juan Figueroa, the sheriff of Ulster Country, who had to apply with Ryan for police funding while Ryan was serving as County Authority.
Also untrue, Figueroa said, is the argument of some Republicans that Democrats essentially want police departments to be defunct. As district director, Ryan hired more cops, expanded benefits for law enforcement retirees, and helped get a grant to fight opioid abuse. Earlier this year, the sheriff’s department also committed the largest drug and weapons m*rder in the county’s history.
“It’s because I worked with Pat,” said Figueroa, a retired marines and former state policeman. “My budget has increased by 18 percent.”
Ryan himself admitted that actively articulating a counterpoint to the Republican crime narrative was one of the reasons he managed to win.
“We bent down and talked about what I had actually done – from wearing a uniform in combat for 27 months to increasing funding for our police force and actually fighting violent crime,” he said in a speech on MSNBC on Thursday. “You cannot leave a vacuum and space for what the extreme right is doing, which is lies.”
One blow against some Democrats – and in particular Governor Hochul – is that they were ill-prepared for the crime debate in this electoral cycle – even though New York City Mayor Eric Adams had won City Hall based on the issue just a year earlier. Many politicians also complained that Hochul’s campaign was not prepared at all – from disseminating campaign literature to hiring people with sufficient knowledge of the state’s political landscape.
Malia Du Mont, who met Ryan when the two were campaigning together in the Delgado general election, said this was not the case for Ryan’s campaign – especially when there was a redistribution confusion.
“They really tried to educate voters,” said Du Mont. “His campaign was really smart.”
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