Incumbent Paul Tonko Challenged by Liz Joy for New York’s 20th Congressional District

Legislative Gazette photo by Marlee Capuano.
Campaign signs on Western Avenue in Albany, New York advocating for opponents Liz Joy and Paul Tonko in the race for New York’s 20th Congressional District.

As November and the presidential election approaches, the U.S. congressional districts are beginning to hold elections as well. In the 20th Congressional District of New York, incumbent Democrat Paul Tonko is being challenged by Republican Liz Joy.

The 20th Congressional District of New York consists of all of Albany and Schenectady counties, as well as portions of Montgomery, Rensselaer and Saratoga counties. Throughout the 20th District, there are 188,324 active Democratic and 106,232 active Republican voters. However, there is the consistent factor of “blank” voters, voters who aren’t registered with either party. This district has 110,080 voters who are registered as independents and may sway the election either way.

Incumbent Tonko, who represents the Democratic Party, Working Families Party and Independence Party, is now serving his sixth term in Congress. He was first sworn in in 2009. As the 20th Congressional District has 82,092 fewer people registered as Republican than Democrat, it might be easy to assume that Tonko will be successful in his endeavor for reelection. However, the large number of independent voters mean that anything is possible.

Joy will be representing the Republican Party, Conservative Party, and Serve America Movement Party. “I wholeheartedly believe that the 2020 elections will be like none other than we’ve ever seen before,” Joy says in a video of her official YouTube channel. “I believe that there will be a showdown around socialism, that the Democrats are aggressively pushing for and our constitutional freedoms that the Republican party are standing strong for.”

Joy goes on to talk about her views on abortion and how these elections are about “respecting and valuing human life” urging voters to “vote life to these innocent viable babies.” On the contrary, Tonko is endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice America, who have been fighting for reproductive freedom and choice for over thirty years. According to their website,  77% of Americans believe that women should have the right to legal abortion. 

At a later point in her video, Joy states, “Congressman Tonko has been very vocal about supporting the impeachment of our President Donald Trump.” In a statement in 2019, Tonko explains, “It is with both profound sorrow and an abundance of patriotism that I cast my vote in favor of the resolution to impeach President Trump.” He goes on to explain that this decision was not made out of “dislike” for the President, but out of his profound “love for our country.”

Tonko goes on to close out his statement with, “When faced with a President who has deliberately and maliciously acted to undermine the very core of our democracy – our free and fair elections and our system of checks and balances – my duty to the Constitution and our great country compels me to act.” He explains that if he were not to move forward with the impeachment of the president, this would make him “complicit.”

As there are 82,092 more Democrats throughout the 20th District, Joy is facing the greater challenge here. Most people tend to vote across a party line, so many of these results may also depend on the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. 

Nonetheless, until Nov. 3, there is no way to be too certain.