ALBANY — Otsego County will lose its congressman this week.
Gov. Kathy Hochul, with less than four weeks before early voting begins for the Democratic primary in June, said last week the appointment of Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, as lieutenant governor will be finalized Wednesday, with a special election for his seat to be held in late August.
Her announcement came after days of Republicans urging Hochul to authorize the special election to minimize the time residents of 19th Congressional District go without representation.
Delgado, who has been in House of Representatives since 2019, says he hopes to be a resource for local officials needing assistance from the government.
The lieutenant governor's office has been vacant for six weeks, following the resignation of Brian Benjamin from the post. He left the job when he was arrested on felony corruption charges.
While Hochul has been the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination for governor, she and Delgado form an unusual partnership for a statewide ticket, as both politicians are from the upstate region in a state where the bulk of the population is in metropolitan New York City.
Early voting in New York's Democratic primary for statewide offices and Assembly seat will commence June 18 for the election that will wind up the night of June 28.
Competing against the Hochul/Delgado ticket are: Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-Long Island, and his running mate, Diana Reyna; and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and his running mate, Ana Maria Archila.
Suozzi has accused Hochul of failing respond effectively to what he calls crises of public safety and affordability; while both Williams and Suozzi have been painting Hochul as a flip-flopper who had stood for gun rights before becoming a strong advocate for gun control.
Hochul, who has not returned fire, has released a television ad emphasizing her support for reproductive rights and is ready to counter efforts to restrict abortions after a leaked U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion suggested the Roe v. Wade decision is about to be overturned.
With Delgado headed to the Hochul ticket, residents of the 19th district will lack representation in Congress until the special election for the seat is held Aug. 23. That is the same day as the primary election for the congressional seats that have just been redistricted as well as the primary for state Senate candidates.
The multiple elections have sparked predictions that voters will be confused, particularly in what is now the 19th district. The newly drawn lines, set to go into effect Jan. 1, are significantly different than the current lines.
One candidate, Democrat Pat Ryan, the Ulster County executive, plans to run in the special election for the 19th, while also running in the primary election for the redrawn 18th district.
Republican Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, is running in both the special election for the 19th district, as well as in primary for the GOP nomination for the new 19th district.
Democrats angling for their party's nomination in the new 19th district include Jamie Cheney of Rhinebeck and Josh Riley of Ithaca.
Democratic campaign strategist Hank Sheinkopf said Hochul appears to be in good shape for the Democratic gubernatorial primary following a sustained fundraising blitz and having raised her profile in the aftermath of the racist Buffalo supermarket massacre and the leaked Supreme Court abortion opinion.
"Her problem is the fall," Sheinkopf said, referring to the general election. Sheinkopf said polling shows the crime surge could hurt Democrats with suburban voters.
"Its very unlikely that Nassau and Suffolk Counties (New York's most populous counties outside New York City) — if the shootings continue — are going to vote Democrat," Sheinkopf said.
In close statewide elections, the suburbs have at times made the difference, though no GOP candidate has won statewide office since George Pataki was elected to a third term as governor in 2002.
With Delgado joining Hochul, Republicans could have a wider target should those two win the Democratic primary, as GOP candidates will likely link Delgado to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., a strong supporter of President Joe Biden's economic policies, said Gerard Kassar, chairman of the state Conservative Party.
The voting records of Delgado and Pelosi have been aligned on 99% of congressional votes, according to a vote comparison tally from ProPublica. "I think Mr. Delgado carries all the burdens of the Pelosi world and the Biden world," Kassar said.
Hochul called Delgado "a phenomenal leader" whose Washington experience "will make him a key liaison to our Congressional delegation."
When Delgado is sworn in Wednesday, New York will have had three lieutenant governors in a span of just nine months.
Hochul had been lieutenant governor last August when the top job opened with the resignation of then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He quit while facing an investigation into allegations he sexually harassed several women, accusations he denied and did not result in any criminal prosecutions.
Sheinkopf said he doubts Cuomo, who has not ruled out making another run for public office, will mount a late candidacy for governor.
"It's too soon for him now," said Sheinkopf.