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Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) speaks with reporters in Philadelphia on March 10, 2022.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) speaks with reporters in Philadelphia on March 10, 2022. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Progressives Condemn DCCC Chair for 'Disgraceful' Self-Dealing in NY Primary Debacle

Sunrise NYC denounced Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney's plan to run against progressive Rep. Mondaire Jones "and potentially sacrifice the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives in the process."

Kenny Stancil

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the leader of House Democrats' campaign arm tasked with protecting incumbents, has come under fire this week after declaring his intention to run against first-term progressive Rep. Mondaire Jones in a newly redrawn New York congressional district—a move that critics have slammed as cowardly and potentially harmful to the party's efforts to keep control of Congress.

Maloney, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), announced his plan to mount a primary challenge against Jones less than an hour after a New York court released a draft of the state's new congressional districts, which are expected to be made official on Friday.

"Maloney selfishly put Jones in a bad spot."

"If the newly announced maps are finalized, I will run in New York's 17th Congressional District," Maloney, who currently represents the 18th District, wrote Monday on Twitter. "NY-17 includes my home and many of the Hudson Valley communities I currently represent."

Despite the fact that Jones currently represents three-quarters of the 17th District, Maloney's decision to run against the incumbent in New York's August 23 primary received the blessing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and some other high-ranking Democrats.

The 17th District, which President Joe Biden won by 10 points in 2020, is slightly more friendly to Democrats than the 18th District, which he won by eight points and where many commentators believe Maloney should run for re-election instead.

Calling Maloney's behavior "embarrassing" and "disgraceful," Indivisible co-executive director Ezra Levin criticized the DCCC chair for "running from a fight he's supposed to be leading."

After being blindsided by Maloney's announcement, Jones' only viable options—assuming New York's draft redistricting plan hasn't been significantly revised—are to take on the DCCC chair or challenge fellow first-term progressive Rep. Jamaal Bowman in the 16th District.

"Maloney selfishly put Jones in a bad spot," Daily Kos political director David Nir noted on social media.

According to HuffPost, some House Democrats "are privately discussing ousting Maloney" as DCCC chair less than six months before the pivotal midterm elections. Such a move is unlikely, however, given that Maloney has Pelosi's support.

In addition, "progressive members are not-so-silently criticizing [Maloney] for suggesting he's a better 'fit' to represent a mostly white suburban district," HuffPost reported.

"The thinly veiled racism here is profoundly disappointing," Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.), another first-term lawmaker, wrote Wednesday on Twitter. "A Black man is ideologically ill-suited to represent a Westchester County District that he represents presently and won decisively in 2020? Outrageous."

If Jones were to run against Bowman in the 16th District, House progressives would lose a key member in the process. Instead, progressive advocates say, Jones should seek re-election in the 17th District.

"Leadership and corporate donors may want two progressive Black men to scrap it out, but that doesn't serve working people's interests," Max Berger, a co-founder of Justice Democrats, tweeted Wednesday. "A progressive vs. progressive primary would be a debacle with no winners."

"If Mondaire jumps into Jamaal Bowman's district, the progressive movement will be united against him," wrote Berger. But if Jones "takes on Sean Patrick Maloney in his current district, the progressive movement will be united behind him."

An even better option, the Sunrise Movement's New York City branch argued Thursday, would be for Maloney to run in the 18th District.

"We are disappointed that DCCC Chair Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney appears to have chosen to primary a climate champion like Congressman Jones and potentially sacrifice the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives in the process," the chapter said in a statement. "We strongly urge Congressman Maloney to reconsider his decision."

"Jones currently represents approximately three-quarters of the new 17th District, which includes his hometown of Spring Valley, while Maloney only represents a quarter of it," Sunrise NYC continued. "This district has a strong foundation of progressive politics... and its voters benefit greatly by being represented in Congress by a climate leader such as Jones."

"Congressman Maloney must take his responsibility as the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee seriously," the group said. "Instead of seeking personal political advantage, he should fight to keep NY-18 in Democratic control this year."

Sunrise NYC emphasized that "we cannot pass meaningful climate legislation with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives."

"Progressive coalitions must organize to keep NY-18 blue and retain incumbent climate champions in NY-16 and NY-17," the branch added. "Sunrise NYC feels that Congressman Jones is the best possible candidate to advance the fight for crucial climate legislation in the 118th Congress on behalf of his community in the newly-created NY-17."

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