GOP’s Faso Beats Teachout in Fierce House Race

ALBANY (AP) -

Former state lawmaker John Faso defeated progressive champion Zephyr Teachout on Tuesday, allowing Republicans to hang on to a hotly contested open House seat upstate.

The race, in a swing district north of New York City now held by retiring Republican Rep. Chris Gibson, was marked by sharp attacks, ideological contrasts and a flood of outside money. It was one of several seats Democrats and their allies targeted but failed to win from Republicans in New York. None of the state’s 27 seats switched parties.

Faso said he would work for all voters in the district, including Teachout supporters.

“I will work every day in the hope of earning your trust and will listen and work with those who may differ in their opinions as to the issues confronting our great country,” Faso said at his victory reception.

Faso returns to elected office 14 years after he left the state Assembly, where he was minority leader. He ran unsuccessfully for state comptroller in 2002 and governor in 2006.

Faso remains the sharp-tongued fiscal conservative he was during his lawmaking days, though Teachout’s campaign focused instead on his later lobbying work and his less-than-explicit views on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Faso had not said whether he would vote for Trump.

Teachout galvanized liberals with her surprisingly strong 2014 primary challenge to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election bid. The Fordham University law professor moved to the Hudson Valley after the image-boosting loss and announced her run in January. She was helped by independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who promoted his fellow progressive at a rally near the State University of New York at New Paltz.

The district includes blue-collar Hudson River cities, liberal pockets like Woodstock and farm towns. Costs to compete in the district are high because a big chunk of it is served by the expensive New York City media market.

Candidates and outside groups combined to spend more than $13 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets website.

Republican state Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney won a three-way race as the GOP kept the central New York seat held by retiring Rep. Richard Hanna. She defeated Democrat Kim Myers, a county legislator and daughter of the founder of Dick’s Clothing and Sporting Goods. The race was complicated by the candidacy of Martin Babinec, who ran on a third-party line usually taken by Republicans.

There were two open seats downstate.

On Long Island, Democratic former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi scored a political comeback by claiming the seat long held by retiring Democratic Rep. Steve Israel. He defeated Republican Jack Martins, a state senator.

And in New York City, Democrat Adriano Espaillat won the race to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel in a strongly Democratic district that includes Harlem and parts of the Bronx.

Here’s a look at some other competitive House races in New York.

— Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin won a second term by defeating Democrat Anna Throne-Holst, a former Southampton Town Supervisor. Zeldin, an Army Iraq veteran, was a target of Democrats two years after unseating a six-term Democrat. Throne-Holst tried to turn Zeldin’s support for Trump against him in the Long Island swing district.

— In the Southern Tier, Republican Rep. Tom Reed fended off a spirited challenge from Navy veteran John Plumb, a Democrat, to win a fourth full term. Reed endorsed Trump but later criticized his lewd comments about women.

— First-term Republican Rep. John Katko turned back a challenge by Democrat Colleen Deacon in a Syracuse-area district that has flipped between parties over the last several election cycles. Katko is a former federal prosecutor, and Deacon was an aide to Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillbrand.

— Rochester Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter again defeated Republican Mark Assini, who surprised observers in 2014 by coming within 900 votes of defeating the 15-term incumbent. Slaughter appeared to take the local town supervisor seriously this time, with her campaign calling him a “right-wing ideologue.”