Pelosi offers support for Maloney amid New York redistricting turmoil

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday offered her full-throated support for Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), the head of the party’s campaign arm, who’s come under fire from some Democrats for his potential primary challenge of a Black freshman congressman in a neighboring district.

“We’re very proud of Sean Patrick Maloney,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference in the Capitol.

The court battle over New York’s new congressional lines resulted in Monday’s unveiling of a court-sanctioned map that, if finalized, would disadvantage Democrats, pitting incumbents against incumbents in a series of races that sets the stage for Republicans to pick up House seats in November’s midterms. 

The stunning development prompted Maloney to announce that he’ll seek reelection, not in the 18th District he currently represents, but in the 17th District, represented by Rep. Mondaire Jones, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Complicating the debate, the new map would place Maloney’s residence in the 17th District, while Jones’s home would rest in the 16th, currently represented by Rep. Jamaal Bowman, another liberal Black freshman.  

Jones has not indicated his plans for November’s race, but Maloney’s potential move to the 17th District leaves him with tough choices: challenge Maloney or jump into the neighboring 16th District and take on Bowman.

Another option available to Maloney, which some of Jones’s and Bowman’s allies are pushing, is for the congressman to remain in his 18th District, which is the most competitive of the three for Democrats.

The prospect of having the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), who oversees the party’s campaign strategy and spending, take on an incumbent has raised plenty of eyebrows within the caucus, prompting some calls for Maloney to step down from the DCCC if a challenge emerges between him and Jones in New York’s August primary.

“Unfortunately, it puts him in a position of needing to step down from that position, so that the DCCC can avoid an appearance of impropriety,” said Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), who like Jones is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. “That’s an unfortunate situation.”

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who is also poised to run against one of his colleagues because of the new maps, told The Hill on Wednesday that Maloney should “probably not” be leading the DCCC if he takes on another member in November.

“I have to look at the situation more,” he added.

Democrats are facing difficult odds of keeping control of the House in November’s midterms. Still, Pelosi on Thursday praised Maloney’s work in a challenging cycle. 

“We have a great chairman of the DCCC, he’s a master of the three Ms,” Pelosi said, noting that they are mobilization, messaging and money, referring to fundraising efforts.

“He has worked very hard. I’m very proud of the work he has done.”

Pelosi declined to endorse specific candidates, but suggested Maloney is in his right to jump into the 17th District, since his residence is there. She noted that New York’s new map will be finalized on Friday, when the real plans about midterm races will have to be decided.

“I’m not getting involved in the politics of New York and their redistricting,” Pelosi said. “He as well as other members of the New York delegation said they were gonna run in districts where their home is. They’ll find out what district that is on Friday when the announcement is made.”

Asked if the turmoil among the New York delegation will affect the party at large, Pelosi said “not at all.”

Tags DCCC Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Hank Johnson Jamaal Bowman Jerrold Nadler Jerry Nadler Mondaire Jones Nancy Pelosi New York New York redistricting Sean Patrick Maloney Sean Patrick Maloney

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