KINGSTON — Democrat Antonio Delgado, a rapper-turned-corporate lawyer, ousted freshman Republican U.S. Rep. John Faso Tuesday in a swing district in New York's Hudson Valley.
Delgado, who is black, won Tuesday despite Republican ads that called him as a "big-city liberal" and claimed he denigrated women, police and American values during a brief rap career years ago. His supporters said Republicans went too far with racially-charged attacks in a district that is 90 percent white.
Delgado moved to the Hudson Valley from New Jersey to launch his political career during the surge of liberal activism that followed President Donald Trump's inauguration. He campaigned on universal access to Medicare, creating good jobs and eliminating tax loopholes for the rich.
Faso, 66, joined Congress last year. Trump endorsed him a tweet, calling him "Strong on Crime, Borders and our 2nd Amendment."
The sprawling district stretching from New York City's northernmost suburbs to rural counties near Albany was targeted as a key battleground for Democrats seeking to flip the House.
With voters evenly split among Democrats, Republicans and independents, the district, which backed President Barack Obama for two terms and favored Trump in 2016, was seen as a toss-up in 2018. One recent Siena College poll showed it as virtually a dead heat.
Delgado's campaign fundraising far outstripped Faso's, with nearly $8 million in contributions compared to Faso's $3.6 million in the latest Federal Election Commission report.
Delgado, 41, who was born and raised in Schenectady, just outside the district. He studied at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and earned a Harvard law degree before pursuing rap in Los Angeles. He worked in New York City as a litigator for an international law firm representing Fortune 500 companies and investment funds before moving into the Hudson Valley in 2017 and launching his congressional campaign.
During the campaign, Delgado demurred from dissecting his rap lyrics but said his goal dovetailed with his current political aspirations.
"The objective was to use the most popular art form to empower young people to get more civically engaged," he said in an interview on the campaign trail. "To highlight issues like income inequality, the Iraq war, climate change, wealth disparity and criminal justice reform."
Delgado depicted Faso as beholden to corporate political action committees and accused him of breaking a promise to an ailing constituent who begged him to preserve coverage for pre-existing medical conditions.
"He's not here to serve the people; he's bought," Delgado told a crowd in Hoosick Falls. "A lot of people in D.C. are bought, on both sides."
Faso is a lawyer and was a state Assemblyman from 1987 to 2002.