Campaign

House Democrats’ campaign chief concedes to Lawler in stunning loss

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.), the head of House Democrats’ campaign arm, conceded his race on Wednesday against state Assemblyman Mike Lawler (R), a major blow to the party and a stunning defeat for the man charged with propelling other House Democrats to victory.

Lawler’s win in New York’s 17th Congressional District marks the first general election defeat for a campaign chair of either party since 1980.

“I’m deeply grateful to the people of the Hudson Valley for giving me their voice and their vote in Washington for 10 years. Not going to whine about it,” Maloney, who appeared at a loss for words, said in his remarks Wednesday.

“I’m gonna do this the right way, and the right thing to do is to say the other guy won and wish him well and pledge my support, and that’s what I’m doing. And I’m gonna take pride in my service, and I’m gonna talk to my family about what comes next.”

Earlier Wednesday morning, William F.B. O’Reilly, a spokesperson for Lawler’s campaign, confirmed in a tweet that Maloney had “just called to graciously concede.”

The Associated Press called the race shortly after noon.

Once projected to sail to victory, Maloney, who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, increasingly faced a competitive race as GOP operatives dedicated millions of dollars to support Lawler and topple Maloney, one of Democrats’ highest-profile vulnerable lawmakers.

Those Republican investments furthered tightened an already close race, creating a very different scene on Tuesday from two years ago, when President Biden won the Hudson Valley-based district by 10 points.

Lawler’s victory marks an embarrassing defeat for the five-term New York Democrat, who switched districts immediately after the state approved new congressional maps in a move that angered many within his party. Maloney chose to run in the new 17th Congressional District with more favorable lines instead of the 18th District, which he currently represents.

That move pushed out Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), who currently represents the 17th District, requiring him to run in the nearby 10th District to avoid an awkward member-on-member primary. He lost his Democratic primary in August.

That move was considered controversial given Maloney’s role as the chair of the House Democrats’ campaign arm was to boost incumbents and protect the Democrats’ majority in the lower chamber.

But that wasn’t the only hurdle that Maloney faced when he chose to run in the new 17th District. Given the district included a majority of new constituents, it required the powerful Democrat to introduce him to voters — not an inexpensive feat, as the nonpartisan Cook Political Report noted in October.

The House Democrats’ campaign arm even launched an ad buy of more than $600,000 in the district, raising eyebrows given it meant that money would be spent away from other competitive House races.

Ahead of the race being called, some Democrats suggested that it would be karma if Maloney lost his race.

“If Sean Patrick Maloney loses in NY, after driving Mondaire Jones out of his own district and prioritizing petty short-term political games over the needs of voters, well, that’s just a shame isn’t it,” Democratic strategist Max Burns tweeted.

Tags 2022 midterms 2022 Midterms House Mondaire Jones New York Sean Patrick Maloney
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