Rep. Antonio Delgado, a little-known Hudson Valley Democrat, was selected by Gov. Hochul on Tuesday to serve as her next lieutenant governor.
Hochul, running to retain her seat this summer, is hoping to push the memory of her first lieutenant governor, Brian Benjamin, out of voters’ minds after he was charged with bribery and resigned from office last month.
Delgado, a moderate 6-foot-4 former college basketball player who lives in small-town Rhinebeck, certainly cuts a different figure from Benjamin, a one-time state senator from Harlem who was expected to broaden Hochul’s New York City appeal when she picked him in the summer.
Finding a political parallel for Delgado anywhere in the U.S. might pose a challenge. He is an Afro-Latino former rapper, lawyer and a graduate of Colgate University who is raising his children in a Jewish home.
He was a Rhodes scholar, graduated from Harvard Law School and was inducted into the Upstate Basketball Hall of Fame. He has served in the House since 2019, and upset an incumbent Republican, Rep. John Faso, to capture his swing district south of Albany.
Nick Langworthy, chairman of the New York GOP, said in a statement Tuesday that Delgado is “radical leftist who wants to dismantle our criminal justice system and make New York a socialist state.”
But almost 90% of the bills he has cosponsored during the current Congress are bipartisan, according to his House office. He has one of the most centrist track records of any Democrat in the chamber.
Delgado, 45, said Tuesday that his district has offered him “so many opportunities to meet folks where they are — to listen and to find common ground.”
“This has always been the mission: to connect,” Delgado said in an Albany news conference. “We need to reconnect and strengthen our collective bond as New Yorkers. We need to heal together, and put humanity back into our interactions.”
In a statement bidding him goodbye, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday that Delgado has served as a “champion for security and opportunity” and “earned the respect of his colleagues for working across the aisle.”
“The people of New York will be well-served by his intellectual brilliance, tireless work ethic, strong values and his extraordinary talent for communicating with his constituents,” Pelosi said in the statement. “He and Governor Kathy Hochul will make a terrific team.”
They will make a uniquely upstate team in the Executive Mansion. Hochul, a Buffalo native, became New York’s first upstate governor in decades when she replaced Gov. Andrew Cuomo in August. Like Delgado, she once represented a swing congressional district.
On Tuesday, she seemed to draw a contrast between Benjamin and Delgado, saying New Yorkers deserve a lieutenant governor that they can “trust.”
“The congressman is no stranger to hard work and to public service,” Hochul said in the news conference. “As we went down the list of candidates for this job, his name kept rising to the top. But if you follow politics, this should not come as a surprise. He’s been a rising star, with a resume to match.”