- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The congressional New York map proposed by a court-appointed special master has thrown Democrats into a tailspin, and carries potential risks for the entire party across the country.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, chairman of the House Democrats’ campaign arm whose organization is necessary to help fundraise for and protect as many as 70 seats of vulnerable Democrats, could be fighting for his own political survival this cycle, House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy told The Washington Times.

“I think he’s going to be bogged down in his own race,” said Mr. McCarthy, California Republican. “The Democrats overplayed their hands. And now you got two fair districts in New York. What’s interesting was what [Mr. Maloney] said yesterday — ‘The problem is not the voters. The problem is us.’ So even he admits the Democrats are doing [something wrong.]”

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Chris Taylor responded, “Chairman Maloney is working tirelessly to make sure Kevin McCarthy and his caucus of extremist MAGA Republicans remain in the minority.”

Mr. Maloney found himself among incumbents getting reshuffled in the proposed map and deciding to face fellow party incumbents, should the map be finalized at the end of the week.

Mr. Maloney, who currently represents the 18th Congressional District, announced he would run in the bluer 17th, a district that includes his own residence. However, most of that district is presently held by first-term lawmaker and fellow Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones, a progressive caucus member.

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And Mr. Jones lives in the same district as fellow progressive freshman Rep. Jamaal Bowman, in the proposed solid blue 16th District that extends further south towards Westchester.

“While the process to draw these maps is against the will of the voters, if the newly announced maps are finalized, I will run in New York‘s 17th Congressional District. NY-17 includes my home and many of the Hudson Valley communities I currently represent,” tweeted Mr. Maloney.

He later said, “Further, I believe I am the only sitting member who resides in NY17.”

Mr. Jones shot back, “Sean Patrick Maloney did not even give me a heads up before he went on Twitter to make that announcement. And I think that tells you everything you need to know about [him],” Politico reported.

Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin of Long Island, a candidate for governor, said the biggest question “is what Mondaire Jones decides to do.”

“If Mondaire Jones decides to run in the 17th, then he’s in a primary with Sean Patrick Maloney, but if he chooses to run in a primary against Jamal Bowman in that other congressional district, you have another dynamic going on,” Mr. Zeldin said.

Democrats say the final map has not been released and are counting on the next few days to make changes to the proposed map, to fix what they see as problems with special master Jonathan Cervas’ congressional boundaries.

“Let’s see how the map turns out over the next few days,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the Democratic House Conference Chair. “There’s been a flurry of public commentary that will come in through the end of Wednesday, and then the special master will have until Friday to produce a new map.”

Rep. Gregory Meeks, New York Democrat, told The Times he believes his party will keep the majority.  

“We’re going to win. We’re going to maintain. We’re going to shock the world. And we’re going to maintain a majority in the House,” Mr. Meeks said. “And Sean Patrick Maloney has teamed up to proceed. He‘s helped put that together.”

Former DCCC Chair Cheri Bustos of Illinois, who is retiring this cycle, led the DCCC in 2020 when she barely won reelection by four percentage points, and House Republicans flipped 15 seats, leaving Democrats with a narrow majority.

In 2006, when Republicans were about to lose control of their House majority, then-Rep. Tom Reynolds, New York Republican and National Republican Congressional Committee Chair, was in a challenging race of his own.

Mr. Reynolds managed to defeat his opponent that year by about 3.7 percentage points, but the rest of his party did not fare as well against the Democrats. Following the election, the Democrats captured 31 GOP seats and the majority.

Republicans see an opportunity to keep not just rank-and-file Democrats busy defending themselves, but also Mr. Maloney.

Sean Patrick Maloney can’t protect himself or any other vulnerable Democrat and should resign as DCCC Chairman,” NRCC Spokeswoman Samantha Bullock said in a statement.

The new map, proposed by Mr. Cervas, was submitted after the state’s top court rejected the Democratic legislature’s map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.

The congressional boundaries drawn by Mr. Cervas give New York Republicans a better chance to pick up more seats in a “red wave” cycle election year. Both parties and the public have until Wednesday to submit comments on the preliminary plan. Mr. Cervas is expected to submit a final plan to the court on Friday.

Initially scheduled for next month, the state’s primary was postponed until Aug. 23.

Mr. Zeldin said the New York congressional Republican delegation may grow to as large as 12 because of the new proposed map.

“There are some decisions that have to get made on the Democratic side as far as their internal politics. Who’s running in which districts, and we’ll know more about where those primaries are, but there’s huge consequences,” he told The Times.

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

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