Congressman Mike Lawler’s district is on the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee’s target list.
While all 26 congressional districts in New York are up for grabs in November’s election, Democratic candidates are vying to flip the seats Republicans gained in the 2022 midterm elections back to blue.
Those seats include Congressman Mike Lawler’s 17th District and Congressman Marc Molinaro’s 19th District in Hudson Valley.
“We elected a lot of good candidates who are up for re-election who are already in competitive seats and the Democrats want to make it where it’s not competitive so that’s what’s at stake in New York,” John McLaughlin, owner of the Hudson Valley-based national survey research firm McLaughlin & Associates, told The Epoch Times.
Mr. Lawler’s 17th District is among the races that the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) added to its “Red to Blue” program in an effort to regain the House majority.
“The [17th District] is a place where [Gov.] Kathy Hochul and [President] Joe Biden are underwater in terms of their popularity,” said David Wasserman, Cook Political Report’s senior editor and elections analyst, on a Spectrum News broadcast. “We saw Lee Zeldin carry the district in the midterm elections and Lawler beat the sitting chair of Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee Sean Patrick Maloney.”
Democrat hopefuls Mondaire Jones and MaryAnn Carr aim to defeat incumbent Mr. Lawler in a district in which 59.6 percent of residents voted for President Biden in the 2020 presidential elections, according to voter data.
“I think their chances of winning it, especially if Mondaire Jones is the nominee, is very difficult because even though the Democrats have a registration advantage in the district, Mondaire Jones is way too left-wing and extreme for a district like this,” Jim McLaughlin, partner with McLaughlin & Associates, told The Epoch Times. “He just doesn’t fit.”
Mr. Jones, a former congressman who previously represented District 17, did not reply to requests for comment.
Ms. Carr, who served as a Bedford council member for five years and town supervisor, said she plans to uphold a woman’s right to choose abortion if elected.
But first, she must beat Mr. Jones in the Democrat primary.
“Abortion is one thing that I disagree with Congressman Lawler on,” Ms. Carr told The Epoch Times. “I also disagree with his alignment with the MAGA [Make America Great Again] folks and Mike Johnson, the speaker of the House. In addition to that, we need common sense gun legislation policy.”
For now, the 17th District encompasses parts of Rockland, Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess counties. However, the boundaries could change once the bipartisan Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) completes its court-ordered redistricting.
After hearing oral arguments on Nov. 15, 2023, the New York State Court of Appeals decided by a 4–3 vote last month that voters should not be forced to rely on congressional districts drawn by a special master appointed by Steuben County Judge Patrick McAllister in the case of Harkenrider v. Hochul. The deadline for the IRC to submit a compliant map is Feb. 28.
“I feel very good about where we are and the work we’re doing, and as long as it’s a fair map, I’m confident I’m going to win,” Mr. Lawler told The Epoch Times. “The question will be what will they try to do on the map?”
Mr. Lawler is leading financially with $2.5 million in cash on hand compared to $1.5 million for Mr. Jones, and Ms. Carr’s $5,666 as of Dec. 31, 2023, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) data.
What makes Democrats hopeful about flipping Mr. Molinaro’s District 19 is Democrat incumbent Pat Ryan’s 18th District, according to Vince Casale, a New York political consultant.
Currently, regions within the 19th District are the Catskills, Hudson Valley, Southern Tier, and Finger Lakes while District 18 encompasses all of Orange County, some of Dutchess and Ulster Counties, as well as the cities of Newburgh, Beacon, Kingston, and Poughkeepsie.
“Marc Molinaro is surrounded by a couple of interesting dynamics,” Mr. Casale told the Epoch Times. “I think the Democrats will look to protect Pat Ryan and in helping to protect Pat Ryan, it actually may benefit Mark Molinaro by making his district a little redder.”
Democrat challengers to Mr. Molinaro’s seat include Josh Riley, a Harvard University-educated attorney.
Mr. Molinaro alleges that his opponent hasn’t lived in upstate New York.
“He’s been a Washington insider his entire adult life,” Mr. Molinaro told the Epoch Times. “I come to the table not only with a lifetime of experience fighting for and working in upstate New York but now giving voice to the communities in upstate New York.”
Mr. Riley did not respond to requests for comment.
Mr. Molinaro’s 2024 campaign promises include expanding statewide mental health and addiction services.
“Fentanyl has been a crisis for the last decade and failure by this federal government to confront China’s trafficking of fentanyl across the southern border into our communities is criminal and because of it, we are losing countless American lives,” he said. “It’s truly inexcusable.”
Mr. Molinaro has $1.6 million in cash on hand compared to Mr. Riley’s $1.4 million, as of Dec. 31, 2023.
Congressional District 21, occupied by Rep. Elise Stefanik is another Republican seat Democrats hope to regain.
The region has been under Ms. Stefanik’s representation for nine years, and after this term, she will have served for a decade.
Clinton, Franklin, St. Lawrence, Lewis, Hamilton, Essex, Warren, Washington, Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, and Schoharie are within the district.
Democrat candidate Steven Holden, who is gunning to replace Ms. Stefanik, characterizes her as out-of-touch.
“[Career politicians] often inhabit a political bubble,” Mr. Holden told The Epoch Times. “The longer they remain inside that bubble, the farther they drift from the realities faced by the people they are elected to represent.”
In Nov. 2022, Mr. Holden challenged Congresswoman Claudia Tenney in the 24th Congressional District and lost. He garnered 34.3 percent of the vote compared to Ms. Tenney’s 65.7 percent.
“I received various endorsements during my prior run and expect to garner greater support in this campaign,” Mr. Holden said.
Ms. Stefanik has been endorsed by 21 national organizations including the National Rifle Association, the United Mine Workers of America, and the National Border Patrol Council.
Financially, Stefanik leads with $2.9 million in cash on hand as of Dec. 31, 2023. Mr. Holden’s cash on hand is $41,869.
“The majority of Americans can’t relate to someone who grew up in wealth, attended private schools, and has an Ivy League education,” Mr. Holden alleged. “In contrast, I grew up in rural Oklahoma in a community similar to the majority of NY21.”
Ms. Stefanik did not respond to requests for comment.