Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney made his move earlier this year, after New York’s new House district lines were announced following months of litigation.
The Democrat declared he would seek for reelection in the 17th Congressional District of the Lower Hudson Valley, which includes Cold Spring, where he currently resides, although only around 30% of his constituents do. Some on the left criticised the choice, claiming that by running for a seat thought to be safe for Democrats, Maloney was putting his own interests ahead of the majority he was tasked with defending as the head of the party’s House campaign arm.
Maloney brushed off the criticism, stating that even in the newly created district, which President Joe Biden would have carried by around 10 points in 2020, he would still have a tough fight ahead of him come November.
Given that Maloney is currently in a close race, if anyone had any doubts about him at that time, they have remained quiet during the past few months.
His situation is similar to that of numerous other Democrats in New York and across the nation. Republicans have seized on fears about growing inflation and public safety, bolstering their message with the help of Biden’s dismal support ratings as well as the general exasperation and anxiety over a pandemic that, more than two years after it started, is still wrecking havoc on the economy. If Maloney loses, Republicans will not only be able to brag about deposing the director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in his own backyard, but they will also virtually certainly be on their way to destroying the Democratic majority in the House on election day.
State Assemblyman Mike Lawler, Maloney’s Republican opponent, has benefited from a flurry of outside funding by Republican organisations, led by the Congressional Leadership Fund, the major House GOP super PAC, which has invested $6 million in the campaign, $4 million of it in the last three weeks. Their spending sparked a response from the DCCC, which contributed more than $600,000 in a move Maloney claimed to have recused himself from, as well as another entity with ties to Maloney.
Republicans may find the seat to be desirable in any election cycle, but the chance to unseat Maloney has increased interest in and funding for Lawler’s campaign.
He was able to gather resources since he ran against the DCCC chair. Because it’s against the DCCC Chair, it’s absolutely an enticing contest,” said Republican Matthew Slater, Yorktown’s supervisor and Lawler’s longtime friend and close ally. “I believe there will be repercussions across the nation if Mike can beat the chairman of the DCCC. And I believe that will be the outcome in the end.
John Gromada, the leader of the Rockland County Democratic Party, told HEADLINESFOREVER that Maloney’s position and the symbolism it carries have been a “big obstacle” in the campaign.
“The $9 million, or whatever amount was put into all these negative commercials, is the only reason this race is close. It is simply ridiculous. It is an artillery, according to Gromada. Without all that stinking money, I don’t believe it would even be close.
Maloney, for his part, takes care to avoid coming across as moping or complaining. After all, he sought this race, even if it meant almost eliminating fellow Democratic Representative Mondaire Jones, whose district includes Rockland County. (Jones later attempted to run for a district in reconfigured New York City but failed in the primary.)
Maloney used an old military term to characterise his and his Democratic colleagues’ situation: “Embrace the suck.” Life isn’t equal. Politics is not equitable. You play the cards you are dealt, and you come out ahead. And that is what we will carry out.