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Bill Clinton stumps for Riley in Sullivan County

Former President Bill Clinton stopped in the hamlet of Hurleyville in Sullivan County to campaign for 19th Congressional District Democratic candidate Josh Riley Wednesday.

Speaking to a crowd of a few hundred people, Clinton said he appreciates Riley’s background as a Broome County native to a working class family. He also praised Riley’s legal work.

"I like this guy because of what he's done with this life and because he came from a working-class family, factories on one side and law enforcement on the other, and I like what he's done with his life," Clinton said.

Clinton specifically pointed to Riley’s mother, who worked in law enforcement in Tioga County for 20 years. The 42nd president didn’t shy away from discussing his own record on criminal justice.

"I know about this, but we did it by putting more police on the street in the communities, knowing their neighbors, working with people, trained to use violence as a last resort,” Clinton said referring to aspects of the 1994 crime bill.

The 1994 crime bill, formally the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, included funding for the hiring of thousands of police officers, a federal ban on assault weapons, and funding to expand prisons. The legislation has been criticized as contributing to mass incarceration and disproportionate policing of minority communities. Clinton himself has expressed regret in those aspects of the legislation.

Riley has expressed support for the Clean Slate Act, legislation that would allow people to seal their criminal records after serving their sentence.

Addressing the crowd prior to Clinton’s arrival, Riley framed the midterms as an effort to stop what he says is an encroachment by Republicans on democracy.

"Over the last year, particularly in these last few weeks, has given me so much inspiration and so much hope because I'm traveling across this district and I am seeing rooms like this of people who are coming out, standing up, fighting back and saying we are going to win this election and we are going to save our democracy and we are going to fight back,” Riley said.

Riley has also previously campaigned with former U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.).

Republican 19th District candidate Marc Molinaro held a fundraiser with House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in Broome County Wednesday, though the event was closed to press.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Vaughn Golden has been reporting across New York since 2016. Working as a freelancer while studying journalism and economics at Ithaca College, Vaughn has reported for a number of outlets including the Albany Times Union, New York Post, and NPR among others. Prior to coming to WSKG full-time, Vaughn was a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times. Vaughn now covers government and politics for WSKG.