Republican Lawler to Challenge DCCC Chair Maloney in 17th Congressional District

By Reuvain Borchardt

L-R: Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and Republican Assemblyman Mike Lawler

Republican Mike Lawler has announced a run for the newly drawn 17th Congressional District, making a bid for a blue seat in the Lower Hudson Valley that the GOP is looking to steal in an upcoming “red wave” election.

“This seat is winnable,” Lawler said in announcing his run Monday. “We will win it in November.”

Several other Republican candidates have expressed interest in running, but Lawler, who currently represents the 97th Assembly District, is expected to get the GOP nod, and run in the general election against Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.

Maloney, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, currently represents the bordering 18th District, but when new Congressional maps were released last week, Maloney announced he would run instead in the newly drawn 17th. The 17th District’s Democratic incumbent, Mondaire Jones, rather than primarying Maloney, will run in the 10th District, which includes Lower Manhattan and portions of South Brooklyn including Boro Park, and which won’t have an incumbent in the race.

In announcing on Twitter his candidacy for the 17th last week, Maloney said, “NY-17 includes my home and many of the Hudson Valley communities I currently represent.”

Congressmembers don’t have to live in their district, and it is believed Maloney is choosing to run in the new 17 since it is slightly bluer than the new 18: According to The Intercept, Democratic President Joe Biden carried the new 17th District by ten points in 2020, and the 18th by eight points.

The DCCC chair jumping from +8 district to a slightly safer +10 district indicates Democrats’ apprehension over the upcoming midterm elections, in which Republicans are expected to retake one or both houses of Congress. According to The Intercept, Jones chose not to run in 17 not due to fear over losing the primary to Maloney — but because internal polling showed him losing the general election.

Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran New York Democratic political consultant, told Hamodia that despite Maloney’s powerful position and the 17th being a blue district, he believes Lawler is the favorite.

“Today, I think Lawler has a better than 50% chance to win,” Sheinkopf said. “You cannot count Republicans out in Upstate New York. The district may have gone +10 for Biden in 2020, but Democrats are not likely to do +10 anywhere outside of big cities in 2022. The perception is that Democrats equal crime and chaos, and that’s exactly what voters don’t want.”

“As Chairman of Nancy Pelosi’s political committee,” Lawler said Monday, “Sean Patrick Maloney has served as both the head cheerleader for the failed Biden-Pelosi agenda and as their chief enforcer in Congress. Make no mistake, the record inflation, record crime, and unending series of crises that have defined the Biden presidency are Sean Maloney’s record.”

Lawler is already on the ballot for reelection to the Assembly, but after new Congressional maps were released over the weekend following a long legal battle, “the 17th congressional district became too appealing of an opportunity to pass up,” a source close to Lawler told Hamodia.

Lawler will remain on the ballot for Assembly even while he runs for Congress, and benefit from a unique feature of New York elections this year that arise from the redistricting battle: since the Congressional and state Senate lines were not finalized until last weekend, the primary election for those two races was postponed until August 23, though the primaries for Assembly and all other races will be held as scheduled June 28. If Lawler wins his Congressional seat, he would drop off the Assembly ballot and substitute another candidate. But if he loses his Congressional primary, he can still run for the Assembly seat.

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