2008 New York's 19th congressional district election

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The 19th congressional district of New York, which includes Westchester and parts of the Hudson Valley.

The New York 19th congressional district election for the 111th United States Congress was held on November 4, 2008. Freshman incumbent John Hall is the nominee for the Democratic Party. Hall narrowly defeated incumbent Sue Kelly by 6,000 votes in 2006.

On May 22, 2008, Republican delegates from each of the five counties represented in the 19th district met in Mahopac, New York to endorse a candidate, and chose candidate Kieran Lalor.[1]



John Hall[edit]

Incumbent Representative John Hall, a former populist folk singer, is running for reelection. He achieved victory in 2006 with a 51% to 49% margin to defeat incumbent Republican Sue Kelly in this historically Republican district. As Hall is a freshman Democrat representing a heavily Republican district who is targeted for defeat by the National Republican Congressional Committee, the race is sure to garner national attention.[2] President Bush's political adviser, Karl Rove, listed Hall as No. 17 on the target list in a January presentation that became public after it was used to brief political appointees at the General Services Administration. Hall joked that "I like to say I'm back on the charts."[3]


Kieran Michael Lalor[edit]

Kieran Michael Lalor is a lawyer and a Social Studies teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes High School in Poughkeepsie, New York. Lalor enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve in July 2000 and thereafter served as a U.S. Marine Corps reservist, and after service during Operation Iraqi Freedom, he founded a Political Action Committee focused on promoting policies and candidates committed to victory in America's War on Terrorism, known as the Eternal Vigilance Society. Initial filings in 2007 showed Lalor, who was the first candidate to announce he was running against Hall, had raised over $20,000.[4]

Lalor believes a Conservative candidate will have the best chance of unseating Hall; Lalor has made some controversial remarks about his primary opponents, including that "Andrew Saul is John Hall in a business suit", and that Saul would be "Sue Kelly all over again", in reference to some of her more moderate and liberal stances on certain issues.[5] Lalor also accused the National Republican Congressional Committee of favoritism towards Saul when he stated that "It’s mainly because they look at Andrew Saul as a free ride. He’s either going to raise money from his millionaire buddies or he’s going to spend his own money, and the NRCC doesn’t have to kick in."[6]

Other Republican candidates[edit]

Opponents who campaigned for the nomination include ex-Congressman Joseph DioGuardi, Iraq War veteran Kieran Michael Lalor, and County Legislator George Oros. On May 22, 2008, Republican delegates from each of the five counties represented in the 19th district met in Mahopac, New York to endorse a candidate, and chose Lalor, with 347 votes going to the Iraq veteran, 311 going to Oros, and 102 going to DioGuardi.[1] Oros stated he would mount a primary challenge to Lalor.[7]

Joseph J. DioGuardi[edit]

Joseph J. DioGuardi is a former partner of the Arthur Andersen accounting firm who served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives in New York's 20th congressional district from 1985 to 1989. He was defeated by current Congresswoman Nita Lowey. DioGuardi has made numerous attempts to return to Congress, winning a Republican primary in 1992 but losing in the general election. He performed even worse in later races, losing Republican primaries for Congress in 1994 and 1996. After losing the 1994 GOP primary, DioGuardi continued his campaign for the seat as the nominee of the Conservative Party and the Right-to-Life Party. He was the unsuccessful Right-to-Life Party nominee for Congress in 1996 and 1998. He briefly considered running again in 2000, but decided against entering the race.

George Oros[edit]

George Oros is a Cortlandt Republican and the minority leader of the Westchester County Board of Legislators. He was born in Trenton, New Jersey and received a B.B.A. and J.D. from Pace University. In February 2008, Hall gained another potential challenger when Westchester Legislator George Oros announced plans to run against the incumbent. Oros, said his record of winning elections in Democrat-dominated Westchester makes him the best candidate to take on Hall.

Oros was elected to the County Board in 1995 to represent the 1st District and was Chairman from 1996 to 1997. Prior to serving on the Board, George was an active member of the Cortlandt community. He was a Town Councilman and Chair of Cortlandt’s Zoning Board of Appeals.


Much to the chagrin of the National Republican Congressional Committee, several high profile candidates it has courted for the race have all decline to seek the nomination. Potential challengers that have ruled out a bid include State Assemblyman Greg Ball, Orange County Executive Ed Diana, ex-White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, and ex-State Superintendent of Insurance and 2004 U.S. Senate nominee Howard Mills. Other candidates who entered the race at one time or another, or who were recruited as potentially strong challengers include ex-state Finance Commissioner Andrew Eristoff, ex-aide to Governor Pataki Michael Finnegan, ex-Congresswoman Sue Kelly, former first daughter of New York Emily Pataki, and Federal Thrift Retirement Investment Board Chairman Andrew Saul.

Greg Ball[edit]

State Assemblyman Greg Ball was also considering a candidacy. Ball defeated a well entrenched Republican incumbent in a 2006 primary, and was one of the lone bright spots for the Republican Party of New York in 2006. His campaign has purchased Google ads which advertise his website after a search for "John Hall", "19th congressional district", and other similar terms, leading some to believe he is planning to jump into the race. Ball has an impressive fund raising network, raising a quarter of a million dollars for a state assembly campaign. He also has strong grass roots support, demonstrated by his 70% margin of victory in his 2006 primary. The Journal News ran an article after the 2006 election which featured Ball as well as Hall on the front-page, and speculated on a possible 2008 match-up. Ball announced early in 2008 that he would be focusing on reelection to the State Assembly and was not planning to challenge Hall.

Ed Diana[edit]

Ed Diana is the County Executive of Orange County, New York. He is currently in his second term which expires in 2009. Formerly an educator in the Middletown public school system for thirty years, Diana is also owner of the restaurant Diana's, which has been in operation since 1936. Diana has been described as a "top-tier" candidate by the National Republican Congressional Committee. Representing the second largest county in the district, Diana would have strong name recognition in the area which gave Hall is narrow victory in 2006. In January 2008, Diana officially ruled out a run against Hall, stating he would prefer to seek a third term as County Executive.[8]

Andrew Eristoff[edit]

Billionaire Andrew Eristoff most recently served as Commissioner of Tax and Finance under Governor George Pataki from 2003 to 2006. A close ally of former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Eristoff served on the New York City Council from 1993 to 1999 and as City Finance Commissioner from 1999 to 2002. Eristoff failed in one bid for public office, spending over $3 million to challenge Democratic State Senator Liz Krueger in what turned out to be the most expensive State Senate race in New York history. A well financed campaign by a moderate like Eristoff may pose a threat to Hall in the general election, if Eristoff can make it through what is shaping up to be a crowded primary.

Michael Finnegan[edit]

Michael Finnegan is a close personal friend and former top aide to ex-Governor George Pataki. Finnegan initially turned down the NRCC when it approached him months ago to gauge his interest in running against Hall, but he has been reconsidering of late, even before Andrew Saul dropped out of the campaign. Finnegan and Pataki were partners in the Peekskill, New York law firm of Plunkett & Jaffee. Finnegan then managed Pataki’s successful campaigns for mayor, Assembly and Senate and then chaired his 1994 bid for governor. After he defeated Gov. Mario Cuomo, Pataki tapped Finnegan to serve as his first chief counsel. Finnegan currently works for JPMorgan Chase. A moderate such as Finnegan may be the strongest potential challenger yet to declare, as he is capable of financing his own campaign, knows what it takes to win in the area, and has a natural base in Pataki's home territory.

Ari Fleischer[edit]

Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer was mentioned as a "dream candidate" admits December 2006 rumors that the NRCC and New York State Republican Committee were attempting to recruit him to run against Hall. However, Fleischer quickly claimed that he had no intention of running, stating that he "wouldn't want his children becoming Redskins fans."

Sue Kelly[edit]

Prior to her defeat by John Hall in the 2006 election, Kelly was considered one of the 100 most powerful lawmakers in the 435-member House, and the second most powerful congressperson in the New York delegation.[9] Involvement in the Mark Foley scandal may have contributed to her defeat.[10] Others have cited her vote for the Federal Marriage Amendment to permanently ban gay marriage in all states once in 2004 and again in 2006.[11]

Howard Mills III[edit]

Deloitte & Touche consultant Howard Mills III is a former State Assemblyman who served as Superintendent of Insurance during the Pataki administration. He is a moderate, pro-choice Republican. In 2004 he dropped a bid for a fourth Assembly term in order to run against Charles Schumer for the U.S. Senate. He was nominated by the State Republican Committee after its fallout with the conservative front-runner Michael Benjamin, who had a significant advantage to Mills in both fund raising and campaign volunteers. The conservative Benjamin battled with the state GOP, which decided in August 2004 there would be no primary and went ahead and nominated Mills for the seat.[12] Mills went on to lose the election in the largest landslide for a Senate seat in the history of New York.[13] A New York Post article reported that Mills had maintained his Assembly campaign account and continued raising funds while Insurance Superintendent, using them for purposes such as paying for a luxury car, dining out and purchasing gifts. Governor Pataki publicly chastised Mills' conduct. A source close to Mills confirmed that he is seriously considering entering the race against Hall.[14] In late 2007, Mills issued a press release stating he was not interested in running for congress.[15][16]

Emily Pataki[edit]

Emily Pataki is a graduate of Columbia Law School who was heavily involved in her father's campaign for Governor of New York. Her name is frequently mentioned by pundits, and she has excellent name recognition and access to her father's network of campaign contributors.

Andrew Saul[edit]

Andrew Marshall Saul is a millionaire businessman from Katonah, New York who serves as the Chairman of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board and Vice Chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York City, United States.[17][18] Saul has been described as a "top recruit" to face Hall.

Saul has outraised leading primary opponents Kieran Lalor and Joseph DioGuardi in fundraising, and outraising the Democratic incumbent Hall.[19][20][21] A self-financed campaign by Saul could pose a formidable threat to the freshman incumbent.[22] Thus far, Saul has won the endorsement of the Putnam County Republican Committee, the most heavily Republican and Conservative county in the district.[23] He is also courting representatives of the Conservative Party of New York.[24]

Saul announced he was withdrawing from the race in November 2007 due to unspecified 'personal reasons.'[25] In February 2008, however, Saul was rumored to be considering entering the race once again and had launched online polls to gauge interest.[26]

Other parties[edit]

Due to the unique electoral fusion laws in New York State, candidates are permitted to run on the ballot line of more than one party. However, third parties sometimes run their own candidate.

Conservative Party[edit]

The Conservative Party of New York has over 10,000 registered voters in this district and will affect the race. If the Republican nominee is unable to gain the Conservative party line, he will have a difficult time winning the general election. Potential candidate Howard Mills was denied the Conservative line in his 2004 Senate bid, when the party chose to endorse ophthalmologist Marilyn O'Grady, and this contributed to his record defeat.

Green Party[edit]

No green candidates have filed with the board of elections.

Independence Party[edit]

Both Hall and the prospective Republican candidates are expected to compete for the Independence party line.

Libertarian Party[edit]

No libertarian candidates have filed with the board of elections.

Right to Life Party[edit]

DioGuardi has successfully gained the nomination of the Right to Life party in the past, which requires their candidates to be strictly opposed to all forms of abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. It is likely that if he loses the Republican primary he will stay in the race on this line.

Working Families Party[edit]

Hall is expected to gain this party's nomination.


Democratic Congressman John Hall won re-election in the November 4, 2008 general election over Republican] challenger Kieran Lalor, with 59% of the vote.


To date, no polls have been released for this election.


  1. ^ a b "It’s Lalor against Hall in the 19th Congressional District". Mid-Hudson News. May 23, 2008.
  2. ^ National GOP targets Hall for 2008. Elan, Susan. The Journal News. May 27, 2007.
  3. ^ Tumulty, Brian. "Hall has raised $773000 for election". The Journal News. July 16, 2007.
  4. ^ First potential Hall challenger steps forward Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine. Wilbur, Martin. North County News, 2007.
  5. ^ Blake, Aaron. "Neutral NRCC is faced with growing number of primaries". The Hill. August 1, 2007.
  6. ^ Sabato, Larry, and Wood, Isaac. "The Freshman 15". University of Virginia Center for Politics. June 7, 2007.
  7. ^ Blain, Glenn. "Lalor gets convention vote but primary looms". The Journal News. May 23, 2008.
  8. ^ "Confidential: It's official: Ed Diana rules out a run for Congress". Times Herald-Record. January 17, 2008.
  9. ^ PoughkeepsieJournal.com - The article requested can not be found! Please refresh your browser or go back. (BK,20060517,NEWS01,605170312,AR) Archived 2016-01-21 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Hall, Kelly spar over debates". Poughkeepsie Journal. October 11, 2006. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved 2006-10-05.
  11. ^ There is a gay agenda - winning elections | Salon News
  12. ^ Remember Senate 2004, November 20, 2005.
  13. ^ Major Parties to Anoint their Senate Combatants. Humbert, Mark. Associated Press, May 15, 2004.
  14. ^ Celock, John. "Mills Mulling Run Against Hall Archived 2008-01-06 at the Wayback Machine". City Hall News. November 27, 2007.
  15. ^ James, Alexa. "Mills mulling run against John Hall". Times Herald-Record. November 29, 2007.
  16. ^ Benjamin, Elizabeth. "Mills: Don't Believe The Hype". New York Daily News. November 29, 2007.
  17. ^ Official Biography of Vice Chairman Andrew M. Saul Vice from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved 8/4/2007 from mta.info.
  18. ^ Presidential Nomination of Andrew Saul.
  19. ^ Scott, Brendan. "Would-be challengers target Hall". Times Herald-Record. July 21, 2007.
  20. ^ Republican challengers who outraised Democratic incumbents in the 2nd quarter of 2007: Jim Ryun (KS-02) and Andrew Saul (NY-19).[1]
  21. ^ 2Q House Fundraising Round-Up. Retrieved 8/8/2007 from swingstateproject.com.
  22. ^ Elan, Susan. "National GOP targets Hall for 2008". The Journal News. May 27, 2007.
  23. ^ "Andrew Saul is someone I know will work hard for us in Congress. Andrew won’t have to answer to anyone other than the voters of the 19th Congressional District because he’s not going to take money from any special interest or lobby groups. Andrew Saul has won my support, and is someone we can trust to represent us in Congress."—Tony Scannapieco, Chairman of the Putnam County Republican Committee[2]
  24. ^ Silverblatt, Rob. "NY Hopefuls Court Conservative Party". Roll Call. July 26, 2007.
  25. ^ "Report: GOP Recruit Against Hall To Drop Out". CBS News. November 20, 2007.
  26. ^ Elan, Suan. "To run or not to run...". The Journal News. February 15, 2008.

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