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Maloney: ‘We’ll Have a Plan’ to Hold House Seat if He Wins New York AG Nod

New York Democrat not discussing details

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., is running for state attorney general. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., is running for state attorney general. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney said Wednesday that Democrats will have a plan to hold on to his House seat should he win the nomination for state attorney general. But he’s not yet saying what that plan is.

“I’ve worked my heart out to win this seat and to keep it in Democratic hands and I take that very seriously,” Maloney told Roll Call off the House floor Wednesday. “I’ve been talking to Democratic leadership and what I can tell you is we’ll have a plan in place to keep the seat if I win the attorney general nomination.”

Asked what that plan would entail, he said, “I think I’ll leave it right there.”

The New York Times on Tuesday was the first to report the congressman’s decision to run for attorney general. The position opened up when former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned amid allegations he physically abused women, which he denied.

Maloney’s 18th District, north of New York City, is one of 12 in the country carried by President Donald Trump in 2016 and held by a Democratic lawmaker. The district backed Trump by 2 points, while re-electing Maloney to a third term by 13 points.  

The congressman declined to comment Wednesday when asked if he had spoken to potential candidates for his seat.

Democrats are confident of holding the seat against Orange County Legislator James O’Donnell, who filed to run as a Republican. O’Donnell is a former New York State trooper and former chief of police of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department.

“Legislator O’Donnell will have to run on a Republican agenda that has inflicted higher taxes and increased premiums on many New York families, and the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] is confident that Democrats will continue to hold this important district,” DCCC spokesman Evan Lukaske said in a statement.

One name that has come up on the Democratic side as a potential candidate for the 18th District is state Assemblyman James Skoufis, but he tweeted Wednesday morning that he is focused on running for state Senate. 

Uncertainty remains

It’s not yet clear if Maloney’s seat will even be open. The Times report questioned whether he could legally run for both the House and state attorney general in the same election cycle. 

Maloney said Wednesday that he could, because the process for deciding Democratic nominees for state offices occurs at a different time than congressional primaries, which take place June 26. There is a process in New York for Maloney to decline the nomination to his House seat, he said, should he win the Democratic nod for attorney general in September. 

“What the law says in New York is if you’re nominated for another office you have to give up the nomination for the first one. And that’s just what we’ll do — simple as that,” he said.

However, it is not clear if Maloney has to decline his House nomination after he wins the nod for attorney general or after he files to run for the statewide office. (The filing deadline is July 12.) A spokesman for the state Board of Elections said it had not reached a consensus on what was allowed. 

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