Republican Mike Lawler made waves last year by unseating Hudson Valley Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who chaired the House Democrats’ campaign arm.
Lawler has been a political target ever since. And now, the contest aimed at making him a one-term congressional representative is falling into place.
Democrats Mondaire Jones, a former congressional representative keen on a comeback, and Liz Gereghty, who served on the local school board and comes from a prominent political family, have both announced bids for New York’s 17th district.
“I’ve got a record of accomplishment. But I also know that the work is unfinished,” Jones said in an interview.
“It’s too important. Our problems are too urgent,” Gereghty told Spectrum News NY1.
MaryAnn Carr, a member of the Bedford Town Council, has also filed to run in the Democratic primary.
As it currently stands, the 17th district stretches from Rockland County to Dutchess County.
Jones previously represented the region in Congress, but then redistricting last year set off a game of musical chairs. When Maloney decided to run in the 17th district, Jones mounted an ill-fated bid in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.
“Unfortunately, Sean lost the race anyway by 1,820 votes,” Jones said. “And for that reason, I am running to once again provide the leadership that I had already been providing for the constituency here.”
Jones is touting his record from the last Congress, including his support of the president’s major climate and healthcare law.
Just weeks after launching his campaign, he has already racked up dozens of local endorsements, and is already turning much of his rhetorical focus to a potential general election matchup with Lawler—frequently exchanging barbs with him on Twitter.
In the event the state’s congressional lines are redrawn again, Jones says he “of course” will still run in the Hudson Valley in a comparable district, arguing “Mike Lawler must be defeated.”
When asked by Spectrum News NY1 about his Democratic primary opponent Gereghty, Jones said simply, “Anybody can run in this primary.”
Gereghty, in her interview, proved more willing to talk about Jones, including noting his brief sojourn to the five boroughs. She stressed it is a “fact,” not an “attack.”
“I think that we would likely agree on a lot of things. But I think that he has taken some positions when he was running in a different district that aren’t quite in line with this district. And so, I think it might be difficult for him to recover from things like that,” she said.
Gereghty is the sister of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and labels herself pragmatic and more moderate than her Democratic rival.
Touting her experience serving on the Katonah-Lewisboro School Board, Gereghty pointed to the millions of dollars the district had to spend on school security, previewing a potential line of attack should she advance to the general election.
“That is a direct result of Republican refusal to enact common sense gun safety legislation. And we’re all paying for that in our tax bills,” she said.
Both Jones and Gereghty are pushing for enhanced gun restrictions, protections for abortion rights, and reining in the cost of living.
Both also level similar attacks against Lawler, trying to tie him to the House Speaker.
“Mike Lawler will tell you anything you want to hear. But he will do whatever Kevin McCarthy and the extreme MAGA Republicans tell him to do,” Jones said.
“He is just operating, walking around on the Hill, like Kevin McCarthy’s familiar,” Gereghty said.
Lawler is seen as one of the more vulnerable House Republicans in 2024. President Joe Biden, who is set to be back on the ballot next year, carried the district in 2020 by roughly 10 points.
Lawler, for his part, has been actively hitting back at Jones, in particular, labeling him a “radical leftist.”