3 House Republicans Fall to N.Y. Democrats Running for the First Time

Three of nine Republican House incumbents were ousted in a wave of Democratic disenchantment in New York on Tuesday, each defeated by first-time candidates.

Most prominent was Antonio Delgado, who defeated Representative John J. Faso in a race rich with intrigue, big-name donors and controversy: Critics accused Republicans of engaging in dog-whistle politics for airing ads that depicted Mr. Delgado, a Rhodes scholar and a Harvard Law graduate, as a “big-city rapper.” The ads seized on his brief career as a rap artist to highlight lyrics that Mr. Faso said glorified drug use and pornography.

The other Democratic wins came on Staten Island, where Max Rose defeated Representative Dan Donovan, and in Central New York, where Anthony Brindisi declared victory over Representative Claudia Tenney.

Most of the Democratic candidates focused their campaigns on tying their Republican opponents to President Trump and his policies, and railing against what they called a juggernaut of corporate interests in Washington.

All nine of the challengers rejected corporate PAC money, instead relying on small donations and union support to score impressive fund-raising successes.

In the 19th District, Mr. Faso, the Republican incumbent, tried to portray himself as a bipartisan problem-solver. But he could not overcome voters’ anger at Mr. Trump in a district that skews Democratic, or Mr. Delgado’s skill as a campaigner. His challenger earned a prized endorsement from former President Barack Obama and amassed a formidable war chest — $7.9 million through mid-October, more than double Mr. Faso’s haul.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Faso trailed Mr. Delgado, 49 percent to 46 percent.

Taking the stage in Kingston, N.Y., the state’s first capital, Mr. Delgado waited for the cheering to subside before delivering his victory speech.

“This is a new day for NY 19,” he said. “I am beyond humbled by this opportunity. As your congressman I will always serve with integrity, accountability, responsibility and a whole lot of love. Too much of our political climate is fueled with divisiveness and fear. This is not left versus right. But right versus wrong. I am only beholden to you; no special interests, no outside donors.”

On Staten Island, in a district that has more Democrats than Republicans but still leans conservative, Mr. Donovan lost his bid for re-election after a bellicose challenge from Mr. Rose. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Rose was ahead with 53 percent of the vote.

An Army veteran and former health care executive, Mr. Rose, 31, scored the upset by positioning himself in the middle of the political spectrum. During the campaign, he even ran television ads denouncing Mayor Bill de Blasio, a fellow Democrat. He also proved a formidable fund-raiser.

During the Republican primary, Mr. Donovan, 61, touted his endorsement from Mr. Trump. But he then veered to the center during the general-election campaign, trying — in vain, it turned out — to woo conservative Democrats and unaffiliated voters in the 11th District, which also includes southern Brooklyn.

In several districts, recent polls had shown Democrats and Republicans in a virtual dead heat. A number of prominent party leaders from both parties, including Hillary Clinton and Mr. Trump, had endorsed and stumped for candidates in New York.

In the 22nd District, stretching from the Pennsylvania border all the way to Lake Ontario, Mr. Trump had campaigned for Ms. Tenney, a conservative with Tea Party roots who was one of his biggest boosters in Congress.

The race, in a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats by 30,000 voters, was also considered a tossup. And it was hard fought. In addition to Mr. Trump’s campaign swing, Mr. Brindisi, a centrist state assemblyman with an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, won endorsements from two former Republican House members who had held the seat before Ms. Tenney.

The district has a long history of electing moderate Republicans. Ms. Tenney’s immediate predecessor, Richard L. Hanna, castigated her for remarks she made after the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead. In a radio interview, she said that “so many of these people that commit the mass murders end up being Democrats.”

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Brindisi scored a razor-thin victory over Ms. Tenney, 49.5 to 48.9 percent, or a margin of about 1,400 votes. Ms. Tenney said she would refuse to concede until absentee ballots were counted, telling supporters, “I’m certainly not going to give up the fight.”

One key missed opportunity for Democrats occurred in Western New York, where Representative Chris Collins was re-elected despite running under the cloud of a federal indictment. The three-term Republican in the 27th Congressional District beat his Democratic challenger, Nate McMurray, a local official in Western New York.

Just after 11 p.m., Mr. McMurray said, “We’re going to come up a little short tonight.”

But about two hours later, with the candidates less than 3,000 votes — about 1 percent — apart, Mr. McMurray demanded a recount.

In August, Mr. Collins, 68, was indicted on insider trading charges. He initially suspended his re-election bid. But he changed his mind, pointing to the hurdles of coming off the ballot in New York.

Before the indictment, Mr. McMurray, the 43-year-old supervisor of Grand Island, was viewed as a sacrificial candidate. But even as the campaign matured and his fund-raising gathered strength, national Democrats did not lend the help he needed.

Republicans also prevailed in the 24th Congressional District in Central New York, where Representative John Katko, 55, a two-term Republican congressman, turned back a feisty challenge from Dana Balter, a first-time candidate and Syracuse University professor who became a progressive activist after the election of Mr. Trump.

Ms. Balter was not the candidate favored by national Democrats in the primary; the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee persuaded Juanita Perez Williams to run against Ms. Balter.

But Ms. Balter, 42, prevailed in the primary, won an endorsement from former President Barack Obama, and proved a strong fund-raiser. It was not enough to overcome Mr. Katko; with 100 percent of precincts reporting, he had 52 percent of the vote.

On Long Island, Representative Lee M. Zeldin fended off an aggressive challenge from Perry Gershon, 56, a former real estate lender who jumped into politics after growing alarmed by what he called Mr. Trump’s belittling of the press, of immigrants and of science.

Mr. Zeldin, a veteran, clearly connected with voters in the First District with his fervent support of Mr. Trump and of Israel. Mr. Trump twice visited Long Island to discuss the MS-13 gang and to argue for tougher immigration laws.

In other races, Representative Peter T. King, a Republican congressman for 25 years, beat back a robust challenge from Liuba Grechen Shirley, with all but a handful of precincts outstanding, 52 percent to 46 percent. In the North Country, Representative Elise Stefanik, the Republican incumbent, fended off a bid by Tedra Cobb, a former county lawmaker, collecting 56 percent of the vote.

And in the Southern Tier, Representative Tom Reed dispatched a spirited challenge from Tracy Mitrano, a cybersecurity expert, winning 54 percent of the vote.

Kristi Berner contributed reporting from Kingston, N.Y.

Follow Lisa W. Foderaro on Twitter: @lisanyt

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