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Democratic Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan won a special election Tuesday in a swing district in New York’s Hudson Valley, a significant victory for his party in a seat which has been closely watched as the country’s best bellwether this summer.
Ryan led Republican Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro with 51 percent of the vote when the Associated Press called the race. The district is closely divided: President Joe Biden carried it by fewer than 2 percentage points in 2020.
The race in the battleground district, which had been represented by Democrat Antonio Delgado until he left to become New York’s lieutenant governor in May, saw both candidates focus their messaging on the issues that will dominate each party’s talking points in November. Ryan’s television ads hammered on the need to elect a representative who would fight for abortion rights in the wake of the Supreme Court’s June decision undoing Roe v. Wade, while Molinaro’s campaign centered on crime and inflation. It's the latest in a string of recent House special elections in which Democrats have outperformed recent baseline numbers in the districts.
Ryan will serve only four months in the current district, and he and Molinaro will be on the ballot again in November — but in separate competitive districts. Ryan handily defeated primary opponent Moses Mugulusi on Tuesday in his race for a full term, and he will face off against Republican Assemblyman Colin Schmitt in a seat centered on Poughkeepsie. Molinaro will run in the district to the north of that and face Ithaca attorney Josh Riley, who defeated businesswoman Jamie Cheney in a Democratic primary on Tuesday.