His victory in August gave Democrats hope. Now that congressman has to win again.
« Our message hasn’t changed, » Ryan said in an interview. « The intensity just gets stronger, and I think we’re going to see another rejection of this whole ‘red wave’ idea that’s out there that we’ve certainly dispelled in our race. »
But the polls and a shift in election strategy by candidates across the country suggest that abortion alone will not keep the House in Democrat hands. Republicans are finding new success with messages focused on crime and the economy, and Democrats are responding accordingly.
Ryan is among them. His interview came moments before he was due to report to local law enforcement officials to promote the Invest to Protect Act, a bill in Congress that would increase funding for small police departments.
The press conference was surely strategic: His opponent, State Assemblyman Colin Schmitt, joined other Republican candidates nationwide in delivering a tough-on-crime message. He sought to bind Ryan to the state’s controversial bail lawsthat have limited judges’ ability to set cash bail for accused felons and that Republicans — and some Democrats — blame for an increase in crime.
« There’s a big kind of disconnect they feel with Albany, Washington, » Schmitt said in an interview after campaigning at Goshen Farmers Market in Orange County with his wife, Nikki Pagano-Schmitt.
“One-party control has a lot to do with it. Here in the Hudson Valley, we tend to be this moderate ticket sharing area, and we feel left out because of economic issues, public safety issues, immigration issues.
The district, New York’s new 18th, is one of the biggest battlegrounds in the state – a mix of blue-collar workers, New York City police, firefighters and a growing influx of transplants cities buying houses across hills and farmlands.
POLITICO’s medium-term forecast lists the district as Democratic-leaning, as do several major prognosticators. New York has at least six close House races that will help determine which party controls the House in January.
The 18th District is better on paper for Ryan than the 19th District race he won two months ago, when he beat Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro with 51% of the vote.
And now Ryan has the power to start, allowing him to build on his August win and significantly upstage and outspend Schmitt in a pitched on-air battle against crime and abortion rights. Ryan raised $3.4 million and spent $2.8 million, compared to Schmitt’s $1.8 million and spent $1.3 million, records show.
National Republicans tried to make up the difference for Schmitt, pumping $3 million into ads and direct mail aimed at beating Ryan, while Democrats spent $2.2 million to unseat Schmitt.
The new district, which President Joe Biden would have won by 9 percentage points in 2020, spans Orange, Dutchess and Ulster counties.
How important is this race? Biden visited Poughkeepsie in the district earlier this month to promote IBM’s plan to invest $20 billion in its sprawling and once massive industrial park. And Ryan was on Biden’s side.
“The president is delivered. People want us to deliver. It’s what they want, and it’s what they should want and expect,” Ryan said.
The race opposes two young rising stars of New York politics. Schmitt, 32, said voters are more concerned about wallet issues than abortion rights.
Schmitt calls Ryan « extreme » on abortion — which he has pointed out in ads — because the congressman supports New York’s abortion laws, which allow the procedure throughout pregnancy in the US. lack of fetal viability or to protect the life or health of the patient.
Schmitt is against abortion rights, but refrained from saying that he opposes abortion in cases of rape and incest.
“I see it from a common sense, compassionate perspective, and I find most people in this district talk to me about these common sense issues: crime, economics, immigration,” Schmitt said.
Ryan, 40, who has served two tours of Iraq in the US military, counters that Republicans want to scrap abortion rights nationwide, pointing to the 15-week federal abortion ban proposed on last month by the South Carolina senator. Lindsey Graham.
« Talking about the abortion rights that have been such a divisive issue for most of my life in a unifying way as an idea of freedom was very powerful, because it’s a shared American value, » said said Ryan.
Princella Whatley, a vendor at Goshen Market, said abortion rights were of crucial importance to her. She would not vote for a candidate opposed to abortion rights.
« A woman has the right to do what she wants with her body, » she said after Schmitt passed. “I don’t think anyone has the right to tell you what your opinion is or what you choose to do. You don’t know people’s situation.
But others have focused on pocketbook issues that Schmitt and Republicans hope will outweigh the focus on abortion.
“We need small business help,” said Sarah Gailie, a greenhouse salesperson. « We need a Republican right now. »