Several bellwether races have happened in 2022, like Republican Texas Rep. Mayra Flores winning in South Texas, but none touch on national issues quite like the one happening in upstate New York on Tuesday.
Molinaro, the third-term county executive for Dutchess County, NY, is running on an anti-Democratic Party ticket. His campaign strategy has been to highlight the rising inflation, high gas and energy prices, and the increase in violent crime in his district and connect these issues to Democratic Party policies.
The Republican nominee said in an interview with Breitbart News on Saturday that he is fighting for his district, which has been “ignored by state and federal leaders, ” mostly affiliated with the Democratic Party. (RELATED: ANALYSIS: Don’t Let Them Fool You. The Democrats Are Fighting Quicksand Despite Recent Wins)
“They know the burden of high taxes. They feel the pain of inflation. Farmers are overwhelmed by costs. Small businesses are over regulated,” Molinaro told the outlet. “New York state leads the nation in out-migration. More people leave this part of New York than any other place in the country to go to other states that are freer and more affordable.”
New York suffers from a “single party rule” that continues to add “more regulation on … local business,” Molinaro said. “Democrats have been in charge of the state government for far too long. We need voices – Republican voices in upstate New York especially – to speak out against these policies. My county cut taxes, property taxes … cut sales tax on clothing purchases. We cut the gas tax this year because we knew inflation was growing and we needed to provide relief,” he told the outlet.
Those in power are watching this race closely. They’ve been pouring money in to win it, because they know it’s a referendum on their performance. And it all comes down to tomorrow.
— Marc Molinaro #NY19 🇺🇸 (@marcmolinaro) August 22, 2022
On the opposite side of the aisle, the Hudson Valley Democrat, Ryan, has been pushing heavily for progressive issues especially creating federally protected abortion rights. Winning one of the last toss-up special elections could signify that recent legislative wins for the Democrats turned into votes in the ballot box.
Ryan, a West Point alumn, debuted his first TV ad focused on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. He told City & State NY that giving the Democrats control of the U.S. Congress again means federal abortion laws on the books.
“We must rally what is the widely popular view by Americans, that the government should not have a say in individual health care decisions,” Ryan said. “I am confident that if we really fight that way, we can codify Roe and with the principles of Roe, we can put in place things like an assault weapons ban.”
How can we be a free country if the government tries to control women’s bodies?
That’s not the country I fought to defend.
Freedom includes a woman’s right to choose. Period.
Watch our first ad: pic.twitter.com/tWk8GJmErd
— Pat Ryan 🇺🇸 (@PatRyanUC) June 24, 2022
Ryan told CNN at a canvassing event at Rhinebeck park on Saturday that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling brushed against an “American democracy guardrail that transcends some of the other issues.” (RELATED: Economists: Inflation Can’t Be Reined In Without Tanking The Economy)
The Iraqi-war veteran said that he views abortion as one of the “freedoms” he fought for during his time in the U.S. Army and that it’s important to talk about it in that context to help bring voters together. “I talk about freedom because I think the most unifying value that Americans share is freedom – and a lack of excitement about the government telling us what to do in our lives,” he said.
Democrat consultant Bruce Gyory told City & State NY that the special election “is an opportunity to get ahead of the curve for November” by “building around those issues where independents swing against the Republicans.”
President Joe Biden won NY-19 by 2-points in 2020. Still, recent polling shows Republicans have a chance to flip the seat, previously held by Democratic New York Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado, on the special election day, Aug. 23.
The Democratic Party’s internal polling (DCCC Targeting and Analytics Department) found Molinaro up three points over Ryan, with 46% of the vote going for the Republican candidate and 43% supporting the Democrat, reported FiveThirtyEight.
The DCCC surveyed 480 likely 2022 special election voters in NY-19 from Aug.6-8 with a margin of error of +/-4.5%.
#NY19 Special Election:
Marc Molinaro (R) 46%
Pat Ryan (D) 43%
— Political Polls (@Politics_Polls) August 15, 2022
“This is a very purple district,” Molinaro told Breitbart News. “So it has gone back and forth Republican and Democrat for four generations now. You know, leans a little right.”
Special education teacher and registered Democrat in the district, Amy Luke, told CNN that abortion and education are her main issues. Despite leaning Democrat, Luke said she could see herself voting for a Republican and that she supports Molinaro’s criticism of New York’s bail law.
“I definitely like certain aspects of Molinaro’s policies,” Luke said, adding that she still gravitated “toward the Democratic candidate,” Ryan. (RELATED: Biden’s Economy Is Devastating Black Americans)
Another Democrat, James Dykeman, also spoke to CNN about the support for Molinaro. Dykeman, who told the outlet he grew up in the same town as Molinaro, said that voters have been “watching him, cheering him on,” but that they are “also being pretty critical” of him.
“I really believe that he has integrity,” said Dykeman. “And that his integrity is not going to allow him to make the wrong choice because of pressure from a party.”
Ryan told Politico on Saturday that winning NY-19 would “maybe not reset” the Republican momentum going into the midterms but that it could “certainly fundamentally reshape the trajectory” of the election cycle. “A win here would validate that the ground is shifting,” Ryan said
GOP chair of the Dutchess County Legislature, Greg Pulver, told City & State NY that he doesn’t know how Ryan’s all-out abortion rights campaign “plays out with the average voter” on Tuesday. “I think people are concerned about gas prices, about inflation, about security,” said Pulver.
Gyory believes “if [Ryan] beats expectations in Dutchess in the special election and also does well in Dutchess in the primary for the new 18th District, that’ll show that this strategy made sense,” the outlet reported.