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Riley, Molinaro vie for competitive 19th Congressional District

Republican Marc Molinaro, left, and Democrat Josh Riley continue to benefit from outside spending in the 19th District race.
Vaughn Golden
Republican Marc Molinaro, left, and Democrat Josh Riley continue to benefit from outside spending in the 19th District race.

Candidates in the 19th Congressional District continue to make their pitch to voters, closing out what will likely be one of the closest races in the country this year.

Outside groups like super PACs have spent $13 million as of Friday on the 19th Congressional District race, according to OpenSecrets. But to anyone who’s turned on the TV or scrolled through Facebook, that shouldn’t be much of a surprise due to the constant barrage of attack ads.

Speaking to voters in-person, Republican Marc Molinaro and Democrat Josh Riley usually deliver unifying messages.

Molinaro frequently harkens back to his time as mayor of the 1,300 resident Village of Tivoli. He explained how that shaped his thinking.

“I spent every day trying to make government work for people,” Molinaro said at a meet-and-greet event in Binghamton last month. “When there’s a leaky roof, it rains on Republicans and Democrats. And we know in local government that the job of government is to fix the roof.”

But, Molinaro does make jabs at Riley too. He often attacks him as being anti-police, citing his backing by the Working Families Party, a left-leaning block.

Riley pushes back on that, often explaining to voters he’s from a law enforcement family.

“My mom worked in law enforcement for 20 years in Tioga County,” Riley said at a rally with former President Bill Clinton last week. “And so these ads came out and I had to call my mom and say ‘Mom, these ads are on TV, you’re probably going to see them. And look mom, I promise I love you and I’m not going to defund you.’”

Voters at that rally said they support Riley for his pro-union stances and backing by environmental groups. For many of them, like Sally Wiggell, Riley’s support of abortion access is also a motivator.

“Definitely his feeling on women’s rights and the attack on our health at the moment or our health care at the moment,” Wiggell said when asked what’s important to her this election.

Riley has the backing of Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice groups. Molinaro said he supports some restrictions on abortion, but wouldn’t support a nationwide ban.

Wiggell admits she’s a Democrat through and through and would’ve likely supported Riley regardless.

“He would’ve had my vote anyway, I have to say,” Wiggell said with a chuckle.

Many of the political groups are spending millions of dollars to get people like Wiggell to go out and vote. In a race as close as the 19th District may be, whether people like her on either side of the political spectrum show up on Tuesday may very well make the difference.