Politico

Ocasio-Cortez calls on Maloney to resign DCCC chairmanship if he primaries colleague


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday became the first member of Congress to publicly call for Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney to step down as House Democrats’ campaign chairman if he ends up in a primary with a Democratic colleague.

In an interview Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez called Maloney’s decision to run in the newly drawn district that includes most of Rep. Mondaire Jones’ (D-N.Y.) current constituents “terrible” and “hypocritical” — and she said “it absolutely further imperils our majority.”

“Given the resources that he has at his helm, it creates a conflict of interest, Ocasio-Cortez said at the Capitol, noting that Maloney declined to run in another district where most of his current constituents now live. “If he’s going to enter in a primary and challenge another Democratic member, then he should step aside from his responsibilities at the DCCC.”

Ocasio-Cortez is the first Democratic incumbent to say Maloney should be stripped of his leadership position — though scores of others have privately agreed and publicly expressed shock and outrage that he would choose to run in the newly redrawn district that so closely resembles Jones’ seat, when some 70 percent of Maloney’s constituents are in a district to the north. Members from across the ideological spectrum echoed Ocasio-Cortez’s concern “,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:”https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/17/maloney-dccc-jones-new-york-00033277″,”_id”:”00000180-ddec-d3ba-ab85-ddef99db0006″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000180-ddec-d3ba-ab85-ddef99db0007″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>echoed Ocasio-Cortez’s concern that Maloney’s choice poses a conflict of interest.

It’s not yet clear where Jones is going to run in 2022. New York’s congressional map has been in flux for the past month, since the state’s high court struck down the Democratic-drawn map as an illegal gerrymander. Democrats felt even more dread when the court-appointed map-drawer unveiled draft lines on Monday that shoved several incumbents into the same districts.

Almost immediately, Maloney declared in a tweet that he would run in the new 17th District, which includes his home of Cold Spring, N.Y. — but also 73 percent of Jones’ current district. Jones’ home, meanwhile, was drawn into the Westchester County-based district of Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman, a fellow Black freshman Democrat.

Jones is now forced to choose whether to run against the well-connected chairman of the DCCC or Bowman, who is an ideological ally. He said he will not decide until the final draft of the map is released on Friday, but he expressed anger at Maloney’s decision.

“Sean Patrick Maloney did not even give me a heads-up before he went on Twitter to make that announcement,” Jones told POLITICO. “And I think that tells you everything you need to know about Sean Patrick Maloney.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s comments provide a preview of the drama that could ensue when the final map comes out Friday. Even if Jones does choose to run against Bowman, Maloney will still have placed House Democrats in a situation where two Congressional Black Caucus members are being pushed to fight over one seat.

Meanwhile, Democrats will have to recruit a candidate in the newly redrawn district that Maloney left behind — as well as for another district to the north that Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-N.Y.) is vacating to serve as lieutenant governor.

Ocasio-Cortez said Maloney’s actions are “particularly shameful as a member of Democratic leadership, especially as the leadership of the DCCC, who asks all of us to make sacrifices in one way or another, who asks progressives to make sacrifices on their stances in order to preserve a majority.”

Maloney, she said, “cannot seem to take his redistricting on the chin and be able to run in a district that is still 70 percent his.”

President Joe Biden would have carried the new 18th District, with most of Maloney’s constituents, by about 8 points. He would have won the 17th District, where Maloney chose to run, by about 10 points.

Both could be competitive in the fall. Bowman’s new seat, meanwhile, remained deep blue.

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