Lawler the Feisty Candidate Becomes Lawler the Congressman

November 9, 2022

The Hudson Independent

By Bar­rett Sea­man

De­cid­edly mel­lower and less com­bat­ive than he of­ten ap­peared to be as a can­di­date, Re­pub­li­can Con­gress­man-elect Mike Lawler stood in front of the Rock­land County Cour­t­house be­fore a crowd of sup­port­ers and an ar­ray of cam­eras Wednes­day af­ter­noon and pro­nounced him­self “hon­ored and hum­bled” by his elec­tion vic­tory over De­mo­c­rat Sean Patrick Mal­oney.

De­scrib­ing his phone con­ver­sa­tion that morn­ing, in which Mal­oney con­ceded the race, as “a very pleas­ant con­ver­sa­tion,” he asked his sup­port­ers to give the out­go­ing in­cum­bent a round of ap­plause—and thanks for his decade of ser­vice.

With­out notes, he thanked by name more than a dozen peo­ple who worked on his cam­paign or sup­ported him as elected Re­pub­li­can of­fi­cials in the dis­trict. He ac­knowl­edged that it had been a rough and tum­ble cam­paign—one in which $20 mil­lion was spent by both sides at­tack­ing the other. He did not un­der­play the sig­nif­i­cance of his win. “This is a dis­trict Joe Biden won by ten points,” he said, “and we were run­ning against the chair of the DCCC (De­mo­c­ra­tic Con­gres­sional Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, which doles out the par­ty’s funds to its can­di­dates).

Ex­press­ing a mag­na­nim­ity more eas­ily voiced in the flush of vic­tory, Lawler said, “I will do every­thing in my power to rep­re­sent all of the peo­ple of this dis­trict—from every com­mu­nity, from every walk of life, whether you voted for me or not, whether you agree with my pol­i­tics or not. I will do my level best.”

Still, he re­peated the charges he made all through­out the cam­paign: one-party con­trol of Wash­ing­ton, Al­bany and New York City has re­sulted in a 41-year record high in­fla­tion rate, sky­rock­et­ing prices, a porous south­ern bor­der, crime—and a coun­try in which par­ents “are la­beled as do­mes­tic ter­ror­ists for dar­ing to ask ques­tions about their chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion.”

He ac­cepted the grow­ing as­sump­tion that his party would be in the ma­jor­ity in the House. “I look for­ward to be­ing a strong voice in that ma­jor­ity. I’m not go­ing down there to be one of 435 or a rub­ber stamp.”

When asked whether he would join with those in his party call­ing for in­ves­ti­ga­tions—of the FBI, of Hillary Clin­ton, of Hunter Biden, Lawler em­ployed a bit of dry hu­mor as a de­flec­tion: “As Hillary Clin­ton’s new con­gress­man [she and Bill live in Chap­paqua], I am not look­ing to im­me­di­ately com­mence in­ves­ti­ga­tions. If, at the end of the day,” he went on, “there are in­ci­dents or in­for­ma­tion that war­rant over­sight or in­ves­ti­ga­tions, of course; that is a role of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. But we’ve seen what hap­pens with these par­ti­san food fights, and I don’t think it nec­es­sar­ily serves the coun­try well to go from one to the other, back and forth. My po­si­tion is, when war­ranted? Ab­solutely. When po­lit­i­cal? I’m not look­ing to do that.”

He would, how­ever, use “the full force and weight of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment” as lever­age to get newly elected Gov­er­nor Kathy Hochul to make changes in the state’s cash­less bail law.

Bent on curb­ing gov­ern­ment spend­ing, which he blamed on both par­ties, Lawler nonethe­less promised to pro­tect and sta­bi­lize So­cial Se­cu­rity, Medicare and Med­ic­aid. And he will work to get the SALT cap lifted—a po­si­tion New York can­di­dates of both par­ties em­braced.

If taken at his word, the new rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Dis­trict 17 will be more of a tra­di­tional Re­pub­li­can than many of the par­ty’s cur­rent crop of hard­lin­ers. “This dis­trict that I was just elected to has 70,000 more De­moc­rats than Re­pub­li­cans,” he cited as a mo­tive for mod­er­a­tion. His model as a con­gress­man? Pe­ter King, the for­mer rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Long Is­land, a re­spected au­thor­ity on the bud­get as well as on mat­ters of in­tel­li­gence, who re­tired be­fore the 2020 elec­tion, many be­lieve be­cause he dis­ap­proved of the di­rec­tion Don­ald Trump was tak­ing the party.

Lawler said with­out hes­i­ta­tion that he will sup­port Kevin Mc­Carthy as Speaker of the House. It re­mains to be seen how he will fit in with the party of Jim Jor­dan and Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene.