Attorney Mondaire Jones is poised to become the first openly gay Black man in Congress after winning a crowded Democratic primary in New York’s 17th District. But he may share that distinction with another New York Democrat whose primary has yet to be called.
Jones, who worked in former President Barack Obama’s Justice Department, had the backing of several liberal groups in the race to replace retiring House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey in the 17th District. Jones had launched a primary challenge against Lowey before she announced her retirement.
The Associated Press called the race for Jones on Tuesday, three weeks after the June 23 primary, because a surge in mail-in ballots delayed vote counting. When the AP called the race, Jones led the eight-candidate field of Democrats with 45 percent.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC launched its first ever independent expenditure to bolster Jones, who supports liberal policies including “Medicare for All.” Jones had endorsements from a number of liberal leaders including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Jones may have to share his history-making distinction as the first openly gay Black man in Congress with New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres, who currently leads a crowded primary in New York’s 15th District. Torres is Black and Hispanic.
In an interview before the primary, Jones declined to say who he had supported for the Democratic nomination in 2016, noting, “I’ve got a constituent named Hillary Clinton who, as of now, has stayed out of this race.”
Clinton carried the 17th District by 20 points in 2016, and the district’s partisan lean means Jones is likely to come to Congress next year. Inside Elections rates the race Solid Democratic.