For First Time in 42 Years, a DCCC Chair May Lose

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, head of Democrats' congressional campaign, in tight New York race
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2022 10:10 AM CDT
This House Race Doesn't Bode Well for Democrats
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York.   (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, File)

In its reassessment of the coming midterms, the Cook Political Report on Monday made a fairly common move for this time of year—it shifted a congressional race from "lean Democrat" to "toss up." However, this particular race involves Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, who holds the influential role as chair of the House Democrats' campaign arm (the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC). At Axios, Josh Kraushaar sees the new designation as a "seismic shift" for the midterms, one that further bolsters the idea that Republicans are on track for big gains.

Maloney is being challenged by first-term state Assemblyman Mike Lawler, and the incumbent risks an unwanted political asterisk: The Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman explains in a tweet that a Maloney defeat would be "historic" because no DCCC chair has lost since 1980 and no chair from either party has lost since 1992. Lawler tells the Albany Times Union that his own internal polling has him up by 6 points, and Maloney, while disputing that lead, told the newspaper he is indeed worried about losing. "Look, I'm a gay guy with an interracial family in a Trump district," he says. "I didn't win this seat five times by not worrying about it."

Both parties have taken notice. Maloney just received more than $600,000 for an ad blitz from, yes, the DCCC, that describes Lawler as an extremist and labels him "MAGA Mike," per Forbes and CBS News. Lawler, meanwhile, has pulled in roughly $12 million from GOP groups and super PACs for advertising of his own, and he's been tying Maloney to the policies of President Biden and Nancy Pelosi. FiveThirtyEight still gives Maloney an 8-in-10 chance of winning, though the percentage gap between the two candidates is a relatively small 5 points or so (52.7 to 47.3).

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