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After months of attacks for his old rap career, Antonio Delgado is headed to Congress

The New York Democrat defeated incumbent Rep. John Faso on Tuesday.

Antonio Delgado, speaks to people after a candidate forum in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on October 17, 2018.
Antonio Delgado speaks to people after a candidate forum in Poughkeepsie, New York, on October 17, 2018.
Seth Wenig/AP Photo

Democrat Antonio Delgado is the winner in New York’s 19th Congressional District, defeating one-term Republican Rep. John Faso.

A Harvard Law grad and Rhodes scholar, Delgado campaigned heavily on expanding health care, noting that Faso voted to back the Republican health care plan that would have gutted protections for preexisting conditions. Faso countered that Delgado was too new to the district to represent it in Congress.

The black 41-year-old lawyer and first-time congressional candidate was repeatedly attacked during the campaign for his stint as a rapper named “AD the Voice” a decade ago. Faso and conservative groups like the National Republican Congressional Committee argued that Delgado’s old music made him unfit to represent the predominantly white district, pointing to lyrics from Delgado’s first and only album, Painfully Free, released in 2006.

As I wrote in September:

The candidate, who beat several other Democrats in the district’s June primary, began facing strong criticism for his recorded music in July. A piece in the New York Post said that Delgado “spewed politically provocative and racially charged lyrics a decade ago,” before detailing lines from his first album.

Faso quickly seized upon the news. “Mr. Delgado’s lyrics paint an ugly and false picture of America,” he said in a statement.

The criticism of Delgado’s music as “anti-American” has also spread to other conservative groups. The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC that aims to elect Republicans to the House of Representatives, aired a radio ad calling the music a “sonic blast of hateful rhetoric and anti-American views.”

Since then, other ads have highlighted Delgado’s former career. In August, the Congressional Leadership Fund released a spot referring to Delgado as a “New York City liberal” and “Pelosi’s candidate” before segueing into a review of his old song lyrics. That review pointed to Delgado’s use of profanity and claimed that he performed “offensive and sexist lyrics.”

Delgado, for his part, told the New York Times in October that despite the attacks, he remained unapologetic for his old music. “I’m very committed to the themes that I was concerned about then, chief among them people on the margins,” he said. “So for me to apologize, I would in essence be apologizing for what I am doing today.”

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