BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) – A candidate’s past as a rapper has been at the center of one of the first squabbles in the race for New York’s 19th congressional district, which includes includes part of Broome and all of Delaware and Otsego Counties.
Democratic candidate Antonio Delgado put out an album in 2006. His opponent, Republican incumbent John Faso, is using the music as a criticism.
Faso was framing Delgado as a carpetbagger even before this story came to the forefront. That’s mostly because Delgado moved to the district a month before starting a campaign committee. Faso told the New York Times the music isn’t consistent with the views of the district. He says it’s offensive.
The music criticizes the invasion of Iraq. Elsewhere, he uses the n-word, refers to the founding fathers as dead presidents who believed in white supremacy and criticizes capitalism.
Delgado, who is black, said Faso is attempting to “otherize” him. The 19th district is about 90 percent white.
“It’s more white than the United States as a whole. It’s more white than New York as a whole. It is on the very high side in terms of the percentage white population,” said Laurel Elder, a political science professor at Hartwick College who specializes in both race and elections.
Through statements and ads, she said, the Faso campaign and Republican supporters are bringing race to the into the forefront, even if they don’t explicitly mean to.
“Race is a big issue in American politics when you’re looking at congressional elections, public opinion and voting,” Elder said.
For Elder, the response to the lyrics says something about the Republican strategy to re-elect Faso. After all, Delgado’s a relatively lesser known politician. “If they can define your opponent. Particularly, define them in the media before they can define themselves in a positive way in the media. This can play an important role in how voters think about the candidates and think about the choice before them,” she added.
Elder is dubious that this issue will have too of much of an impact on a voter’s decision.
She said, in today’s mega-polarized political landscape, a more left-leaning voter is unlikely to be swayed by Faso and a more right-leaning voter is unlikely to move toward Delgado.
Instead, in a district that’s nearly split between Democrats and Republicans, it’s about what side shows up to the ballot box come November.