Republican Marc Molinaro, the executive of Dutchess County, has defeated Democrat Josh Riley in the hotly contested race to represent the mid-Hudson Valley in Congress.

The seat had been held by newly elected Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado, who gave it up to take over as Gov. Kathy Hochul’s running mate after her No. 2 was forced to resign in scandal.

The win, called by the AP Wednesday, is an important pick-up for the GOP in a district that had narrowly gone for President Joe Biden by 5 points in 2020.

The 19th Congressional District stretches across a broad swath of the mid-Hudson Valley and into the Southern Tier, encompassing towns such as Hudson and Athens.

Tuesday’s results came after months of fierce campaigning between the two men and money flowing into the race from both national parties.

And it’s a reversal of fortune for Molinaro, who lost an August special election to represent much of the district as it was constituted under New York’s old congressional maps, which have since been replaced.

Polls had shown a tight race between the two men, with Riley holding a 48-43% lead in the most recent Siena College survey — right on the edge of the 5% margin of error.

Josh Riley
Riley lost the race despite out-raising Molinaro.
AP

Steven Greenberg, the pollster at Siena College’s Research Institute, said the race would come down to “three things: turnout, turnout, turnout.”

Money poured into the district race as Democrats tried to fend off Republican attempts to claim the seat, which was heavily reshaped during redistricting this year by a court order, after Democrats were found by the state’s top court to have violated the constitution in gerrymandering district lines for political purposes.

Riley out-raised Molinaro by nearly $1.4 million — bringing in $3.6 million compared to Molinaro’s $2.2 million, according to the most recent figures filed with the Federal Election Commission and compiled by Open Secrets, a nonprofit that tracks spending.

But Riley’s edge was offset by a wave of money from outside groups backing Molinaro’s campaign, according to Open Secrets data.

This is not Molinaro’s first bid for higher office.

He won the GOP nomination to challenge now-disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2018 but lost by 26 points in a race in which he was heavily outspent and struggled to gain traction.



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