New York state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi will challenge Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a powerful House Democrat who controls the party’s campaign purse strings, for the Democratic nomination in New York’s 17th District primary.

The move, reported on Monday by the New York Times, marks an escalation in the Left’s feud with Maloney, who angered progressives last week by announcing a run for a left-wing Democrat’s seat. Biaggi, a progressive lawmaker in the state, is expected to jump into the race formally on Tuesday.


Instead of running in the 18th District, which Maloney has represented since 2013, the congressman announced last Monday that he would vie for the slightly bluer 17th District after new congressional maps were released following redistricting. Maloney’s home falls in the new 17th District, but around 70% of its residents are currently represented by progressive freshman Rep. Mondaire Jones (D).

Maloney’s decision seemingly left Jones with two options: run against the establishment-backed Maloney or challenge another progressive lawmaker — Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D) in the 16th Congressional District.

Some Democrats felt that Jones and Bowman, both of whom are black, were being pitted against each other, with Bowman accusing Maloney of trying to “dismantle and tear down Black power in Congress.”

Jones ultimately opted for neither scenario, deciding instead to run in a district miles away that includes Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn.

But Maloney won’t go unchallenged in the Aug. 23 primary. Biaggi, who was part of a wave of progressive Democrats elected to the state Senate in 2018, took a shot at Maloney on Monday, airing the grievances Democrats have had over his decision to switch districts.

Some of Maloney’s Democratic colleagues have complained that by switching primaries, Maloney leaves a seat vulnerable in the 18th District. Without the advantage of an incumbent, Democrats fear the district, which President Joe Biden won by 8 points in 2020, may fall into Republican hands in the November general election.

Biaggi said Maloney’s role as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is tasked with preserving Democrats’ majority in the House, compounds the problem.

“It sends a terrible message to other Democrats,” she told the New York Daily News. “This race will have a clear contrast for Dems. They can vote for a progressive Democrat who knows how to get things done. Or they can vote for a corporate, selfish Democrat.”

Biaggi, who had been running in New York’s 3rd District, decided to switch races after new congressional maps, finalized on Friday, removed the county she represents from the 3rd District. Biaggi said she plans to move to the 17th District in the coming weeks.

The race is expected to be an uphill battle for the state senator. Maloney, who has the backing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), had around $2 million in his campaign bank account as of the end of March, compared to $200,000 in Biaggi’s coffers. And her far-left policy positions, including past calls to “defund the police,” could set her back in an election cycle expected to favor Republicans.


Michael Lawler, a state assemblyman for Rockland County, entered the 17th District’s GOP primary the same day as Biaggi's entry into the Democratic contest, taking direct aim at Maloney in his announcement.

“Make no mistake, the record inflation, record crime, and unending series of crises that have defined the Biden presidency are Sean Maloney’s record,” he said in a statement.