New York’s Sean Patrick Maloney wins primary over progressive challenger after redistricting

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney is expected to win Tuesday’s Democratic primary, ABC News reports, after flipping seats in New York’s redistricting and facing a progressive backlash in the process.

As chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Maloney is tasked with protecting the party’s majority in the House in November. On Tuesday, however, he had to fight for his own seat in Congress.

He ran against New York State Senator Alessandra Biaggi. With more than 82 percent of the expected vote counted, Maloney led Biaggi 66-33. Their race, one of the last notable Democratic House primaries of the midterm season, highlighted party divisions ahead of what is expected to be a tough November battle to retain control of Congress.

Five-term incumbent Maloney — New York’s first openly gay member of the House — saw his own political career come under attack from some fellow Democrats early in the cycle when he upended progressive hopes for the 17th District by choosing to run there instead of his own previous position.

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His decision to run where he lives, rather than stay in New York’s 18th, where most of his current constituents are, pushed freshman Rep. Mondaire Jones — the progressive who now represents most of the new district — to run for New York’s 10th, which was possible because Rep. Jerrold Nadler left the 10th for the 12th (completing redistricting).

Maloney apologized for the altercation, acknowledging that he could have handled the process better.

He has campaigned largely on what has encouraged other front-runners to focus on this election cycle: a slate of Democratic legislative victories despite other political headwinds — such as President Joe Biden’s unpopularity — ahead of what is expected to be a difficult midterm. That’s him they also come after Biaggi for trying to campaign for liberals wins, claiming her progressive streak “destroyed our President and other Democrats” had “nothing to do” with their success.

“Look, you see us going back to the polls. Our pioneers are battle-tested and powerful. By the way, they have a huge advantage over their Republican opponents in terms of their campaigns, their cash. They get their votes right. They have historical deliverables that they’ve brought home to their districts,” Maloney said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, days before his primary.

PHOTO: Representative Sean Patrick Maloney speaks during a press conference on the Inflation Reduction Act at the Glynwood Boat House, August 17, 2022, in Cold Spring, New York. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Biaggi, a leader in the state legislature’s progressive movement who emerged when she defeated a notable incumbent in 2018, had long been considered something of an underdog to Maloney, who also easily outraised her, $4 million to $807,000.

Still, the race has drawn a cast of senior Democrats who support both candidates. Maloney had the endorsements of former President Bill Clinton — for whom he served as a senior adviser while Clinton was in the White House — as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the New York Times editorial board.

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Biagi, meanwhile, had the support of New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and The Working Families Party. (Hillary Clinton, who attended Biaggi’s wedding, dropped out.)

In a related twist, Maloney’s decision-making as head of the DCCC drew fire from some in his own party after news that the agency spent nearly half a million dollars on a lead ad that featured Donald Trump-endorsed John Gibbs in a relationship with the incumbent Republican congressman from Michigan. Peter Meijer, one of the few Republicans in favor of impeachment in the House. (Meijer later lost his race, though observers noted that the DCCC’s involvement was relatively marginal.)

PHOTO: Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, candidate for the 17th Congressional District Democratic state primary, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press during a canvassing event for her campaign on August 13, 2022, in Sleepy Hollow, NY ( (Mary Altaffer/AP)

PHOTO: Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, candidate for the 17th Congressional District Democratic state primary, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press during a canvassing event for her campaign on August 13, 2022, in Sleepy Hollow, NY ( (Mary Altaffer/AP)

On “Meet the Press,” Maloney defended the Democrats’ decision to boost pro-Trump candidates over more moderate Republicans.

“We absolutely did not put party before country,” Maloney said. “The moral imperative right now … is to keep out of power the dangerous MAGA Republicans who voted to overturn our election.”

He added: “This risk didn’t start with Mr. Gibbs. By all accounts, he’s the weakest candidate. Don’t take it for granted: Cook Political Report says Democrats far more likely to win this seat Now it does our work”.

In November, Maloney will face Republican state Rep. Mike Lawler in a district that leans slightly Democratic, making it more of an upset.

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