On Thursday evening, August 31st, John Faso, representing New York’s 19th Congressional District (which includes Gardiner), attended a “town hall” style meeting held at the Esopus government building. The event was planned and sponsored by Move Forward NY 19, a progressive group with which the GDC is very much allied and involved (and whose founder, Debra Clinton sits on the GDC). Faso has previously only consented to small, tightly controlled events, fearing the kind of anger that has poured out toward Republican members all over the country since Trumpism took hold.
The event was a success from the standpoint that 1) It was well-planned by Move Forward NY and went smoothly; 2) Faso showed up; 3) he was finally forced to confront a room of his constituents and face a variety of questions that would not be characterized as “friendly,” and 4) he made obvious to us what we will confront in running against him in the fall of 2018: a career politician adept at verbal bobbing and weaving who sounds way more moderate than he votes.
Faso danced his way around tough questions related to the environment and climate change, tax policy, immigration, dark money, and health care, sometimes sounding like a moderate and at other times saying, “We agree to disagree.” These issues were raised by questioners from Move Forward, the Gardiner Democratic Committee (Tim Hunter, Lisa Lindsley, and Tom Kruglinski asked questions) and other activists and concerned citizens looking for accountability from their congressional representative.
However, anyone hoping that Faso might move substantively away from his right-wing bent surely walked away disappointed. The unfortunate reality is that we in Gardiner are represented by a freshman Republican Congressman, with limited scruples, seeking maximum financial advantage in a closely divided district; hence his refusal to disavow dark money from the infamous right-wing Mercer family. He will always try to sound as balanced and reasonable as possible without offending his base or alienating House leadership. His dance is well-choreographed and predictable. As an Albany politician and lobbyist, he has been practicing it for decades. In Washington, he has become a valued member of the Trump-enabling Republican majority.
And, quite unlike Trump, he’s smart, articulate, and informed. This means that we, as Democrats, need to work that much harder to nominate, campaign for, and elect an excellent candidate to take Faso’s place in 2018.
September 3, 2017