Republican John Faso launched his campaign for Congress in New York’s 19th District on Tuesday – joining Andrew Heaney in an upstate primary race that precedes what could be a close election to replace outgoing Rep. Chris Gibson.
In recent years, Faso, a former Republican leader in the New York State Assembly from Kinderhook, has only served as a political donor, avoiding electoral politics, himself, since his 2006 loss to Democrat Eliot Spitzer in the governor’s race. But Faso – now a partner at the law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips – began exploring a run in July, and this week made it official. While announcing his campaign, he praised Gibson, who he helped elect to Congress in 2010, but pushed an outsider message – saying “at every turn, Washington is making it hard for families and job creators.”
“For too many families today in upstate New York, they’re being forced to leave because the jobs and the opportunity have left us. That’s what we’ve got to change. That’s what we’ve got to fix,” Faso said in a video posted online. “I’m running for Congress because I want to continue to be an advocate for upstate New York, for our families, for our region and for our jobs so that we can restore the American dream for so many people who have now abandoned hope.”
Last month, Heaney – a businessman who founded a website that serves as an online propane marketplace – filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission and has been actively campaigning, visiting community events and opening campaign offices throughout the district. His campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Faso’s announcement.
While the National Republican Congressional Committee does not get involved in primaries, Chris Pack, a spokesman for the group, said it would work to retain the seat in the general election.
"Keeping NY-19 in the GOP column is important to the NRCC," he said in a statement.
Since a federal court redrew the district's lines in 2012, the seat has been targeted by both parties. That year, President Barack Obama won the district with 52 percent of the vote – about the same percentage with which Gibson won. But in 2014, Gibson won by nearly 30 points in a race against Democrat Sean Eldridge, a political activist who is the wealthy husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.
Eldridge told Vanity Fair he would not run again this cycle, but already, one Democrat – 29-year-old John Patrick Kehoe, who said earlier this summer he "would like to be the Drake or Justin Bieber of Congress" – has announced his candidacy for the race, and more are set to join him.
Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, who Democrats view as a top recruit, could decide after his re-election race this fall, and former state Sen. Terry Gipson is also considering a run.