New York congressional races to watch this election season

After a “blue wave” in 2018, Republicans are seeking to regain control of the House. Seven of New York’s 27 Congressional districts are considered competitive, including the 18th and 19th districts that represent Dutchess County. 

The 18th District, which includes Vassar’s campus, is currently represented by Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney. Maloney took office in 2012 after defeating incumbent Republican Nan Hayworth with 52 percent of the vote. President Donald Trump won the 18th district by a 1.9 point margin in 2016, making Maloney’s seat one of 30 Democratic-held House districts that Clinton lost. 

In November, Maloney will face Republican challenger Chele Farley, who previously worked in the financial services industry. Farley has heavily criticized Congressional gridlock and has also targeted Maloney for co-sponsoring Green New Deal legislation. In a May 2019 interview with City & State New York, Farley said “He started out as a sort of moderate representative. And he’s moved further and further to the left. He’s now a co-sponsor of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s ‘Green New Deal.’”

New York’s 19th district is currently held by freshman Democrat Antonio Delgado. In 2018, Delgado defeated Republican incumbent John Faso with 51.4 percent of the vote. Delgado is one of three New York House Democrats supported by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Frontline program. The Committee, also known as the DCCC, uses the Frontline program to provide funding and general campaign support to vulnerable Democratic incumbents. Many frontline candidates, including Delgado, represent districts that supported Trump in 2016. In the 19th district, Trump won 50.8 percent of the vote, while Clinton received 44 percent.

 In November, Delgado will face Republican opponent Kyle Van De Water, an Army veteran and a practicing attorney in Poughkeepsie. Delgado has centered his campaign on supporting farmers, creating an opt-in Medicare public option, and protecting rights for women and the LGBT+ community. Van De Water’s platform focuses on protecting gun rights, lowering taxes for businesses and supporting American farmers and manufacturers.

Democrat Max Rose is also a freshman Congressman and a DCCC Frontline candidate. Rose represents New York’s 11th district, which includes Staten Island and parts of South Brooklyn. Rose defeated Republican incumbent Daniel Donovan in 2018, becoming the second Democrat to represent the 11th district in 10 years. Rose is considered a vulnerable incumbent, largely because Trump won the 11th district by about 10 percentage points in 2016. The race is rated as a toss-up by the Cook Political Report and Inside Elections. In November, Rose will face off against Republican Nicole Malliotakis, who currently serves in the New York State Assembly. Malliotakis ran as the Republican nominee in the 2017 New York City mayoral race, which she lost to incumbent Mayor Bill de Blasio. Malliotakis’ campaign has taken a law and order focus, and she has also pledged to fight for more federal mass transit funding for New York City. During her mayoral run, she received 67 percent of the vote in the 11th district, signaling her support in Staten Island and South Brooklyn. 

New York’s third DCCC Frontline candidate is Representative Anthony Brindisi, who represents the 22nd district in central New York. In 2018, Brindisi won a tight race against Republican incumbent Claudia Tenney by a margin of just 1.8 percent. Tenney is now seeking to reclaim the seat. Trump won the 22nd district by 15 percentage points in 2016, and the seat is considered a toss-up by the Cook Political Report

After gaining 40 House seats in 2018, Democrats are primarily playing defense. However, the DCCC has included New York’s 1st, 2nd and 24th districts in their signature “Red to Blue” program, which provides Democratic challengers in competitive, Republican-held districts with fundraising and organizational support.  

In New York’s 1st Congressional district, located in Eastern Long Island, Democratic challenger Nancy Goroff is seeking to unseat Republican Lee Zelden. Trump won the district by 12 points in 2016, but recent polling suggests that Goroff’s campaign is gaining traction. A likely voter poll conducted in August showed Goroff leading 48 percent to 46 percent. 

Republican John Katko is on the defensive in New York’s 24th Congressional district, which includes Cayuga, Onondaga and Wayne counties in Western New York. Democratic candidate Dana Balter is challenging Katko for the 2nd time after losing with 47.4 percent of the vote in 2018. Katko has held his seat since 2014, but Democrats have won the district in the last three Presidential elections. The Cook Political Report rates the race as “Lean Republican,” meaning the race is competitive with an advantage for Katko. Contradictory polling has increased uncertainty over the race between Balter and Katko. The Balter campaign recently released a poll conducted Aug. 23 to 25 showing Balter leading 48 percent to 46 percent, with a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percent. However, Katko’s campaign released results of a poll conducted Aug. 12 to 15 showing Katko leading 51-40 percent. The latter poll had a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percent. 

An open seat in New York’s 2nd district has also become competitive after Republican Peter King announced his decision to retire after 14 terms in the House. In 2016, the district supported Trump by nine percentage points after Obama won the district in 2012. The open seat is considered a toss-up by the Cook Political Report. Democratic candidate Jackie Gordon is an Army veteran and former educator in New York City public schools. Gordon has focused her campaign on protecting affordable health care, expanding funding for public education and supporting veterans. Republican candidate Andrew Garbarino currently represents Long Island’s south shore in the New York State Assembly. Garbarino recently released his first television ad, titled “Back the Blue.” The ad emphasizes Garbarino’s commitment to supporting police officers and decries calls to defund the police. 

Democrats are widely favored to maintain control of the House in November. The Economist election forecast currently gives Democrats a 98 percent chance of maintaining control of the House. Democrats also have history on their side after regaining the majority of the House in 2018, as the House majority party has not changed twice in a row since 1954

Majority control of the Senate is much more competitive, with 23 Republican Senate seats up for election. FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver currently gives Democrats a 62-percent chance of controlling the Senate. 

Under Pelosi’s pragmatic leadership style, House Democrats have achieved record-breaking levels of party unity in voting. In 2019, the average Democratic House member voted with the party on 95 percent of votes that split the majority of Democrats from the majority of Republicans. Even if some competitive seats are lost, most legislation supported by Democratic leadership will likely pass the House with relative ease if a Democratic majority is maintained. The future of bills passed by the House will depend heavily on which parties control the Senate and the presidency. 

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