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Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney chosen to chair DCCC going into choppy election cycle

Democrats facing slim majority, and history favoring GOP in 2022

New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney was chosen to be chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Thursday.
New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney was chosen to be chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Corrected, 4 p.m. | House Democrats have chosen New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney to lead their campaign arm in 2022, and Maloney has his work cut out for him. 

Maloney defeated California Rep. Tony Cárdenas in the race to chair the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, leveraging his knowledge of the committee’s inner workings and his own experience running in a competitive district. The caucus vote was 119-107.

Democrats enter the 117th Congress with their smallest majority in more than a century and face a difficult election cycle in 2022, since the president’s party typically loses House seats in midterm elections. 

House districts will also be redrawn across the country to reflect population changes in the 2020 Census, and a Democratic effort to capture control of state legislatures that would control that process came up empty in November..

But Maloney is determined to reverse that trend. He told CQ Roll Call in an interview last month, “I don’t give a damn about the past. I’m not a historian. My job is not to whine about it, my job is to win.”

Maloney will succeed the outgoing DCCC chairwoman, Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos, who almost lost her own race after Democrats faced disappointments in races across the country. Instead of adding to their House majority, it’s shrunk to single digits, and Democrats did not defeat a single House GOP incumbent. 

The election results have fractured the Democratic Caucus, with progressive and moderate members directing blame at one another. Last month Maloney declined to speculate on the factors behind the 2020 election results, pledging to conduct a post-election autopsy to determine what went wrong. 

And he’s done it before. After the 2016 elections, another disappointing year for Democrats, Maloney conducted a five-month analysis of the committee’s operations, culminating in a series of recommendations and changes at the committee, which have not been publicly released. 

Maloney launched his run for DCCC chair even though his own race was still not called, thanks to delayed ballot counting in New York. He defeated Republican Chele Farley by 11 percentage points, the largest margin of victory since he won his first term in 2012, when he flipped the Hudson Valley district to become the first the first openly gay person elected to Congress from New York.

Maloney was endorsed by the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, as well as some of the leaders of the the moderate New Democrat Coalition, including its chairman, Washington Rep. Derek Kilmer, its incoming chairwoman, Washington Rep. Suzan DelBene and its chair emeritus, Connecticut Rep. Jim Himes. He boasted a wide range of supporters in his race for DCCC chair, from moderate Democrats in competitive races to more liberal lawmakers.

During the race to be the DCCC chairman, Maloney pledged to establish a vice chair for women’s recruitment and voter engagement. He also appeared open to ending a committee policy not to work with consultants who also work with candidates challenging sitting Democrats in primaries. 

Maloney said last month that the policy “needs to be carefully reexamined,” and he would want to be sensitive to members’ concerns. 

“But I think blanket rules in this space are ill-advised, and I think we should be careful not to needlessly separate ourselves from the most sophisticated and diverse talent working in politics today,” Maloney said. 

Correction: This report was corrected to reflect endorsements were made by leaders of the New Democrat Coalition as individual members.

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