Cook Political Report: Race for 19th district now a toss up

The Cook Political Report, an online political newsletter, is calling the race for New York’s 19th Congressional District against incumbent GOP Rep. John Faso a toss up, even with 16 months to go before the general election.

In a post on Friday, Cook said danger signs are everywhere for the GOP, citing President Donald Trump’s approval ratings in the high 30s, low support for the GOP’s healthcare legislation and Democrats over-performing, despite failing in special elections. They also said polling shows House Republicans tying or trailing real and hypothetical opponents.

But even as clouds seem to darken for some House Republicans races, the report warned that such early dissatisfaction means Republicans have plenty of time to prepare.

“Taken as a whole, the evidence would seem to point to a wave election that would justify moving a slew of races into the Toss Up column and threaten GOP control of the House,” the report says. “Except, the election isn’t this November; it’s still 16 months away. The fact these warning lights are flashing now means Republicans won’t be caught off guard like many incumbents were in 2006 and 2010—they will have time to raise millions, conduct opposition research and define their opponents early. And Democrats aren’t rushing to topple Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who has proven an effective foil for GOP House candidates.”

Faso’s district is one of 10 House districts nationwide Cook has changed to favor Democrats. The 19th district includes all or part of 11 counties, including all of Ulster and Sullivan. Cook changed the 19th district from “leans Republican” to “toss up.”

Faso, who is serving his first term in the House, hails from Kinderhook in Columbia County. He’s an attorney and a former state assemblyman. Eight Democrats have so far emerged to take on Faso.

Here’s Cook’s assessment of Faso’s chances:

Toss Up. Despite his long tenure in Upstate politics, Faso was one of just 15 Republicans to win by single digits in 2016 – and he did so against a very liberal, carpetbagging Democrat. Now he’s facing a deluge of opponents. Democrats are perhaps most high on West Point graduate and Iraq veteran Pat Ryan, but the dynamic could change if 2016 nominee Zephyr Teachout or Ulster County Executive Mike Hein get in.

Hein has said that he plans to make a decision on whether he’ll run or not by the end of this month. When he explored a run for the district in late 2015, his team had polls that put him 4-5 points ahead of Faso, Hein said. You can read my story on this hot race here.

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