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Mondaire Jones looking for comeback in New York

Democrat lost primary for open seat after redistricting in 2022

Former Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones will seek to challenge GOP Rep. Mike Lawler in New York's 17th District.
Former Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones will seek to challenge GOP Rep. Mike Lawler in New York's 17th District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Mondaire Jones launched a comeback bid for New York’s 17th District on Wednesday, seeking to return to Congress after redistricting led to him running unsuccessfully for a different seat last year.

Jones, who was elected in 2020 and served one term, opted not to run for reelection in the 17th District in the New York City suburbs last year after one of his Democratic colleagues, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, decided to run in the redrawn district. Jones ran instead for an open New York City-area seat but lost a primary to Daniel Goldman, who easily won the general election. 

Maloney, who chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last cycle, lost to Republican Rep. Mike Lawler in November. Jones faces competition for the Democratic nomination to take on Lawler, but he represented much of the district when he previously was in the House.

The race for the seat is expected to be one of the most competitive in the country next year. Biden would have won the district by 10 points in 2020, and both parties view it as a priority as they fight for control of the House. 

“Growing up, I didn’t see people like me in Congress. Then I was elected to represent the same people whose homes I watched my grandmother clean,” Jones says in a video announcing his campaign. “I have never been Washington’s choice because I stand up to corruption.” 

When he was first elected, Jones made history as one of the first two openly gay Black men to be elected to Congress, and he was immediately endorsed Wednesday by the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund. While in Congress, he was affiliated with a group of progressive lawmakers known as “The Squad,” which includes fellow New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Jones won’t have the Democratic primary to himself. Liz Whitmer Gereghty, a Katonah-Lewisboro school board member whose sister is Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, is also running. Maryann Carr, a former Bedford town supervisor, also filed to run. 

Biden praised Lawler

Republicans are hopeful that a competitive primary could bruise the eventual Democratic nominee and force them to burn campaign cash before a general election. Lawler raised $849,000 during the first quarter but hasn’t filed a fundraising report for the second quarter, which ended on Friday. 

Republicans have also touted a visit to the district in May by President Joe Biden, who said Lawler was a Republican he could work with and “not one of these MAGA Republicans.”

The race is one of eight with Republican incumbents, including three others in New York, rated Toss-up by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. 

“Republicans dominated in New York last cycle because voters are fed up with liberal extremists whose socialist agenda has caused skyrocketing prices and a crime wave, and this race will be no different,” Courtney Parella, the communications director for the Congressional Leadership Fund, a House GOP super PAC, said in a statement. “If socialist Mondaire Jones is even able to make it through what’s shaping up to be an ugly primary, voters will reject him and his extreme agenda in the general election.”