- The Washington Times - Friday, February 11, 2022

EXCLUSIVE:

Rep. Sean Maloney, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has his hands full in his quest for a sixth term, according to a poll from his Republican rival that shows the incumbent is in a dogfight.

The survey found Republican New York State Assemblyman Colin Schmitt and Mr. Maloney locked in a neck-and-neck race with 38% siding with the Republican and 37% siding with the Democrat.



“Given that Schmitt has so far done no paid advertising and is largely unfamiliar to a majority of the district, the combination of Schmitt‘s current lead, the challenging political environment for Democrats in NY-18 and Maloney‘s lack of voter support all strongly indicate that the district is poised to flip in the November election,” the poll analysis from BK Strategies reads.

The survey had a relatively small sample size of 300 voters in the 18th Congressional District, which includes New York City’s northern suburbs and exurbs such as White Plains and New Rochelle.

The poll’s margin of error is 5.7%.

Mia Ehrenberg, a spokesperson for the Maloney campaign, pushed back against the poll findings, saying the Democrat’s record of achievement speaks for itself.

“The Hudson Valley has resoundingly sent Rep. Maloney to Congress over the years because of his strong connection with the community and success advocating on their behalf,” Ms. Ehrenberg said. “In addition to addressing over 2,000 constituent cases and holding over 50 in-district events in 2021 alone, Rep. Maloney has championed legislation like the bipartisan infrastructure law, which will bring good-paying jobs and investment to the Hudson Valley and successfully banned oil barge anchorages on the Hudson River.”

Mr. Maloney has a major cash advantage.

He sits on $1.7 million. Mr. Schmitt has roughly $257,000 cash on hand.

Mr. Maloney took over the DCCC following the 2020 election and faces a massive challenge in trying to steer Democrats to a strong showing in the midterm elections.

That job gets trickier if he feels his political future is in jeopardy.

Mr. Maloney‘s seat is among the 70 the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting in the midterm elections.

Historical trends suggest Democrats are in for a spanking this fall.

Republicans, meanwhile, are bullish about their chances of flipping control of the House, and possibly the Senate.

Republicans say building frustration with President Biden and Democrat leadership in Congress, including over the way they’ve handled the coronavirus and mask mandates, is going to fuel a “red wave.”

They noted this week how Mr. Maloney rallied behind New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s decision to roll back mask mandates, which is something Republicans for months have been advocating.

Mr. Biden carried the old 18th Congressional District in 2020 by a 5-point margin over former President Donald Trump, who carried it four years earlier by a 2-point margin over Hillary Clinton.

Conducted from Feb. 5 to Feb. 7, the survey from the Schmitt camp showed Mr. Biden is underwater in the new district with 44% approving of his performance and 55% disapproving, and 68% of voters feel the nation is heading in the wrong direction.

Another possible bad omen for Mr. Maloney is the survey found voters, by a 39% to 28% margin, were more interested in electing someone new than reelecting Mr. Maloney.

Among independent voters, 43% said they would rather see a fresh face, and 75% said the nation is on the wrong track.

For his part, Mr. Schmitt says Mr. Maloney is a puppet for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat who is viewed unfavorably by most voters.

Mr. Schmitt said the poll shows Mr. Maloney has “placed his role as Nancy Pelosi’s Democrat campaign chairman ahead of the values and interests of his own constituents.”

“Hudson Valley voters want someone who will represent them in Congress, instead of advancing the Democrats’ national political agenda,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Schmitt vowed to continue to drive home his message of “jobs and opportunity” on the campaign trail.

Mr. Maloney cruised to reelection in what proved to be a disappointing year for down-ballot Democrats in 2020 and is running in a newly redrawn congressional district that analysts say is more favorable to Democrats.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates his race as a “lean Democrat” contest. As a result, the jury is out on whether Mr. Schmitt has a real chance of sending Mr. Maloney packing in the general election.

The Maloney campaign also provided a comment from Orange County (N.Y.) Democratic Chairman Brett Broge.

“Unlike Congressman Maloney, who has consistently delivered for farmers, veterans, and families across the Hudson Valley, Colin Schmitt has been criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike for being an ineffective legislator who puts his own ambitions before the needs of Orange County,” Mr. Broge said.

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled the last name of New York State Assemblyman Colin Schmitt in one reference.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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