When election prognosticators looked ahead to the 2022 midterms, the forecasts for the Democratic Party tended to be bleak. It is common for the party in control of the White House to lose seats in midterm elections, but Democrats have hoped to stem to the tide with recent policy wins by the Biden administration including the Inflation Reduction Act and the student-loan-relief program as well as its heavy messaging over the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision on abortion. Recent polling, however, has been trending in the direction of Republicans with many voters expressing more concerns about inflation and crime. Now a trusted source in political analysis suggests the GOP wave could sink one of the Democratic Party’s most powerful figures: Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
On Monday, the Cook Political Report changed its rating of the House race in New York’s 17th Congressional District from “Lean Democratic” to “Toss Up,” indicating that Maloney could be at risk of losing the race.
In a tweet accompanying the analysis, CPR’s Dave Wasserman noted that a potential loss by Maloney would have significant implications. “A Maloney defeat would be historic: a sitting DCCC/NRCC chair hasn’t lost reelection since 1992 (when NRCC Chair Guy Vander Jagt lost his primary in Michigan), and hasn’t lost a general election since 1980, when DCCC Chair Jim Corman lost in California,” he said.
Maloney has represented the state’s 18th District since 2013, winning reelection five times. After a tumultuous redistricting process, the DCCC chair opted to run in the 17th District, where he lives. In the Democratic primary, he fended off a progressive challenger, State Senator Alessandra Biaggi, and he is now facing Republican state assemblyman Mike Lawler in the general election.
Spending has increased in the race with the Congressional Leadership Fund, which has ties to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, putting $4 million behind an ad campaign hitting Maloney on crime. This brings its total spending in the campaign to $6 million. After the rating change, the DCCC announced that it would be making a $605,000 ad buy in the race against Lawler.
FiveThirtyEight still shows Maloney as favored to win in November, but Lawler told the Albany Times-Union that his internal polling has him ahead by six points. The Maloney campaign told the outlet that its own polling has shown a tight race but that it “consistently” had the congressman ahead.
“This race is and always has been competitive, just like the five others that Rep. Maloney has won,” said campaign spokesperson Mia Ehrenberg in a statement.