Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the head of the House Democratic campaign arm, is drawing fire from fellow New York lawmakers in the party over his decision to run in a newly drawn district north and east of New York City.
Running in that district could put Maloney on a collision course with another House Democrat, first-term Rep. Mondaire Jones, who currently holds a White Plains-area seat just north of New York City. Jones is black, and Maloney's move led another black House Democrat, Rep. Ritchie Torres of the Bronx, to raise the specter of race in his political maneuvering.
Tensions between House Democrats from the Empire State have begun spilling over into public view after the recently released congressional map created a circular firing squad between members. While the map has not yet been finalized, Maloney was quick to announce his plans to run in the district, which includes 60% of Jones’s district, opting not to inform his freshman liberal colleague of his choice.
Torres took to social media to blast the argument that Jones may be “ideologically better suited” to run in a different seat, quoting Punchbowl News's reporting on members' reactions to the potential member-versus-member race.
PROPOSED NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL MAP SOWS CHAOS FOR DEMOCRATS
“The thinly veiled racism here is profoundly disappointing. A black man is ideologically ill suited to represent a Westchester County District that he represents presently and won decisively in 2020? Outrageous,” he tweeted.
The thinly veiled racism here is profoundly disappointing.— Ritchie Torres (@RitchieTorres) May 18, 2022
A black man is ideologically ill suited to represent a Westchester County District that he represents presently and won decisively in 2020?
Torres, himself a first-term lawmaker, went on to argue that there are options in which members would not have to be running against each other.
One solution would be Maloney running in New York's 18th Congressional District, further west, which he mostly represents now. Though under the new lines, that district is somewhat less favorable to Democrats than the neighboring 17th Congressional District, which Jones represents. Then, another black lawmaker, Rep. Jamaal Bowman, could run in the neighboring 16th Congressional District.
Despite coming under fire, with several Democrats questioning whether he can remain in his leadership post if running against a fellow incumbent, Maloney has asserted that he does not plan to shift course.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
“I'm running again, and the voters can figure everything else out,” he told reporters when asked about a hypothetical primary on Tuesday. “If the point is I should move my home where my kids grew up to run in a different district and so that someone else can move into it, I guess I don't understand that.”
Maloney and Jones are not the only members who have seen their current seats merged with their colleagues’ district under the proposal drafted by a nonpartisan special master after the initial map was struck down by a New York state judge. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries's and Rep. Yvette Clarke’s homes both fall in the 9th Congressional District. And the new map tees up a high-profile primary match between House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler in a new Manhattan-based district.
Democrats are looking to fight the map in the courts, with critics arguing that it is unconstitutional and targets minority members’ districts. The previously approved, Democratic-drawn map gave the party a significant advantage over Republicans as they look to defend their majority, facing an uphill battle in the fall.
Republicans are seizing on the infighting between members as they look to target Maloney in the midterm elections, with the National Republican Congressional Committee releasing a statement saying that “Sean Patrick Maloney’s actions reveal the only Democrat he’s concerned with protecting is himself.”
The map, which was released on Monday, is expected to be finalized on Friday.