Mike Lawler Becomes First Republican to Defeat DCCC Chairman in 40 Years

November 9, 2022

National Review

By Brittany Bernstein

Representative Sean Patrick Maloney conceded Wednesday morning to New York state assemblyman Michael Lawler in New York’s 17th congressional district, making Lawler the first Republican to defeat a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman in 40 years.

The concession, first reported by NBC News, comes after a closely fought race: As of Wednesday morning, with 95 percent of the vote counted, Maloney trailed Lawler 50.6 percent to 49.4 percent, according to the New York Times.

Lawler has dealt Democrats an embarrassing loss in an area that President Biden won by 10 points in 2020.

He told National Review last week that three things had helped make the race so tight: his time spent on the campaign trail with targeted messaging about issues that matter, redistricting, and a “significant amount of money” spent by outside groups.

“Whether you’re talking about inflation, whether you’re talking about crime, whether you’re talking about education, those are what folks are concerned about,” Lawler said.

The lower Hudson Valley district is a “pure suburban district” and “very much a blue-collar working class” area, where 50 percent of households have a cop, firefighter, first-responder, or veteran living there, he said. Lawler believes his messaging on public safety and cost of living had been resonating in the area, where he said national issues are “amplified” in many respects.

Maloney was hard hit by an ad focused on comments he made in 2018 while running for state attorney general that he “absolutely” backs ending the cash bail system and that he’d “make it a top priority.”

Redistricting means that Maloney only currently represents 25 percent of the residents that will be in the newly drawn district, stripping him of the typical incumbent advantage. Lawler represents about 20 percent of the district in the state assembly as a first-term assemblyman.

Maloney currently serves in New York’s 18th congressional district, but chose to run in the newly drawn 17th district, which encompassed most of Representative Mondaire Jones’s district. Jones chose to run in New York’s 10th congressional district in New York City but was defeated in a crowded primary.

Republicans spent nearly $8.8 million on the race in NY-17, including $4.7 million from the Congressional Leadership Fund and $1 million from the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC). The NRCC recently announced plans to dump another $867,000 into the race.

The DCCC, meanwhile, scrambled to spend more than $600,000 on tv ads to boost Maloney in the race’s final stretch.

Democratic lawmakers told NBC News Maloney was caught in a tricky balancing act, trying to save Democrats’ razor-thin House majority while also looking out for his own reelection prospects. Maloney told the outlet he has recused himself from making the decision to spend DCCC money on his own race.