- The Washington Times - Friday, November 11, 2022

Post-election finger-pointing has begun among New York Democrats after stinging losses in the reliably blue state.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the chairman of the House Democrats’ campaign operation, blamed “Squad” member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for not defending New York seats that flipped Republican.

“The last time I ran into AOC, we were beating her endorsed candidate two to one in a primary, and I didn’t see her one minute of these midterms helping our House majority,” Mr. Maloney told The New York Times. “So, I’m not sure what kind of advice she has, but I’m sure she‘ll be generous with it.”

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez shot back on Twitter: “Let’s make something crystal clear. Sean Patrick Maloney courted me for donations to swing races. And it was the first thing I did this term.”

She said Mr. Maloney, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, should be thanking her for all the seats Democrats saved.

“Over a quarter million for Dems this cycle. The DCCC facilitated some, and now he denies it. If he isn’t aware of my visit to California and efforts we put in, that’s on him,” she said.

House Democrats avoided a red wave in the elections Tuesday but four Democrat-held seats flipped to the GOP in New York, including in Mr. Maloney‘s reelection race.

In blaming Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, Mr. Maloney said she is often associated with the “defund the police” movement and that it makes it difficult for suburban Democrats seeking reelection in the middle of a nationwide crime wave.

“There are other voices who should be heard, especially when suburban voters have clearly rejected the ideas that she‘s most associated with, from defunding the police on down,” he said. “She‘s an important voice in our politics. But when it comes to passing our agenda through the Congress or standing our ground on the political battlefield, she was nowhere to be found.”

New York Democrats faced an unexpected turn of events earlier in the year after losing a legal redistricting battle of the state’s congressional map. Their congressional boundary map was thrown out by New York‘s high court, giving Republicans a better chance to pick seats in the state this cycle. New York will send 11 Republicans to the new Congress in January.

“This is in no small measure to the efforts of former New York GOP Chairman Ed Cox and former GOP Congressman John Faso to defeat the Democrats illegal gerrymander in court,” a New York Republican insider told The Washington Times.

Mr. Maloney also said that New York‘s competitive gubernatorial race hurt Democrats, like himself, running in suburban congressional districts where Republicans’ message about crime and pocketbook issues resonated with voters.

“The governor is losing by double digits [in swing House districts]. Our candidates have to outperform the governor by more than 10 points, often more than 15 points. That’s a lot to ask of a first-time candidate,” Mr. Maloney said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

He added, however, that Gov. Kathy Hochul was not to blame. She defeated Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin in the state’s governor’s race thanks to the heavy Democratic voter base in New York City who turned out. At the same time, Mr. Zeldin’s anti-crime message resonated across the state and boosted Republican turnout.

Still, Mr. Maloney said he was not blaming the governor for his loss in the 17th Congressional District in the Hudson Valley.

“Blame me because I should have won 3,000 more votes,” he said. “What I mean is, to do so, I would have had to outperform the top of the ticket by 10-12 points and that’s a tall order and I was definitely walking and chewing gum at the same time.”

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

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