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Voters in New York’s Hudson Valley have an important decision to make on November 8th. Not only will they be voting for the next President of the United States, and whether to send Chuck Schumer back to the Senate – likely as Majority Leader – but the Congressional seat held for three terms by retiring Chris Gibson will also be up for grabs.
The Democratic nominee in the race, JStreetPAC endorsee Zephyr Teachout is a progressive champion who built a name for herself after an unsuccessful but competitive run for Governor of New York in 2014 – Teachout garnered an impressive 34 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary against incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo. Since announcing her candidacy for the 19th district, Teachout has continued to build her brand as a strong progressive, fighting for more transparent government and gaining Senator Bernie Sanders’ endorsement in the process.
In my time on the ground in the 19th, I’ve heard from voters and campaign volunteers about the importance of this election. Issues like jobs and the economy, taxes and protecting the Hudson River are at the top of voters’ minds with only days left before they head to the polls. And in the contest between Teachout and her opponent, long-time Assembly member John Faso, the contrast on these policies couldn’t be any clearer.
On Thursday night at Temple Emanuel of Kingston, members of the community gathered to hear Teachout and Faso debate for the sixth time this election. The candidates were faced with questions from the audience on topics ranging from bringing jobs back to the district, their positions on fracking as well as energy policy more broadly, corporate tax reform and social security.
In an election year that has seen foreign policy and national security play an outsized role, the audience at Temple Emanuel was also anxious to hear from the candidates about how they plan to keep Americans safe. On issues like terrorism, cybersecurity, and nuclear proliferation, the candidates put forth their differing visions. Teachout highlighted the importance of a diplomacy-first approach to foreign policy, one that would have the United States use its leverage to pursue solutions to global conflicts. A clear area of disagreement between the candidates is the Iran agreement, which has seen Iran ship out its enriched uranium, dismantle its centrifuges and fill their reactor water reactor core at Arak with cement. Teachout highlighted that the agreement placed the strongest inspection regime in place to make sure that Iran verifiably does not get a nuclear weapon, while Faso called the deal “a disaster”.
With only 11 days left before voters cast their ballots in this extremely competitive race, we can certainly expect outside groups to continue pouring millions of dollars into this race. After last night’s debate, one thing is clear: Voters can count on Teachout to continue to stand up for a diplomacy-first approach to foreign policy, on the trail and, if given the honor, as their next Representative in the United States Congress.