Cook Report moves Democratic House campaign arm chair’s NY House race to ‘toss up’

Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.)
Greg Nash
Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.) arrives to the Capitol for the last vote of the week on Friday, September 30, 2022.

The nonpartisan election handicapper Cook Political Report on Monday shifted its rating of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s (D-N.Y.) House seat from “lean Democrat” to “toss up.”

“When Republicans’ top Super PAC announced an ad buy against Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-17) in April, many assumed it was a gambit to troll or distract the DCCC chair. But two weeks out from Election Day, Maloney finds himself in deep danger, simultaneously fighting for his political life in his Hudson Valley seat and desperately trying to prevent Democrats from being swept out of the House majority,” wrote Cook Political Report U.S. House editor Dave Wasserman.

Wasserman pointed to the gap in spending between outside Republican and Democratic groups — about $3.5 million to $384,000 — as well as Republican momentum in the state, with GOP gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin shrinking the gap between himself and Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) in recent polling.

A clip of Maloney, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), speaking about cash bail is also being used against the incumbent, a tactic that polls in other races have shown could be effective.

“A Maloney defeat would be a historic shock: a sitting House campaign committee chair hasn’t lost reelection since 1992 (when NRCC Chair Guy Vander Jagt lost his primary), though DCCC Chair Cheri Bustos came close to losing in 2020 (52%-48%) and NRCC Chair Tom Reynolds came close in 2006 (52%-48%). A sitting chair hasn’t lost a general election since 1980, when DCCC Chair Jim Corman lost his seat in California,” Wasserman wrote.

Maloney, who currently represents the 18th Congressional District, made the controversial decision to run in the 17th Congressional District this year after redistricting pushed Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), who currently represents the 17th District, into running in the 10th District and ultimately losing his primary.

Wasserman noted Maloney’s decision to run in the 17th Congressional District also required him to introduce himself to communities in his new district key to any victory because he lost some of his biggest bases of support with the move.

However, he added the district Maloney’s running for is more Democratic-leaning than the one he currently represents.

The race’s rating change comes two weeks before the November midterms. Democrats are facing several headwinds this cycle given the historical precedent that the president’s party generally suffers losses in the midterm elections. Democrats are trying to limit the number of losses in the House, and a loss in Maloney’s race would be awkward for their campaign chair.

“Look, I’m a gay guy with an interracial family in a Trump district; I didn’t win this seat five times by not worrying about it,” Maloney said in an interview with Times Union that was published on Sunday. “You have to do your work. You have to go out and make your case.”

“So, of course, I worry about it. I run like I’m behind. That’s why I’ve been successful.”

Tags Mondaire Jones New York New York House race Sean Patrick Maloney toss-up

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