Welp, Republicans didn’t get the “red wave” they were expecting after the 2022 midterm elections, but they did have their victories. One of the most notable wins for the GOP happened in the House when Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, managed to fumble the political bag after losing to little-known one-term Republican state assemblyman Mike Lawler, which happened after Maloney forced out a Black democratic incumbent so he could run in his stead.
All that just so he could lose to a Republican in New York City.
First, let’s start with how we got here.
From the New York Times:
Mr. Maloney was first elected to serve the neighboring 18th Congressional District a decade ago, but after a state judge invalidated congressional district maps earlier this year — calling them partisan, and ordering them redrawn — Mr. Maloney opted to run in the 17th, further to the south, in a slightly more Democratic area. In doing so, he effectively displaced another, less-senior Democratic lawmaker, Mondaire Jones, leading to some criticism from other members of his party.
Jones had one word to say via Twitter after Maloney conceded: “Yikes.”
Not only did Maloney lose after pushing out a popular (and did I mention, Black?) incumbent likely because he figured he had an easy win no matter what district he ran in, but he also became “the first chair of either party’s House campaign committee to lose a race for re-election since the early 1990s,” according to the Times. In other words—Maloney did all of that political maneuvering just to be elected the king rep of taking Ls.
“I don’t like to lose, but my opponent won this race. He won it fair and square. That means something,” Maloney said in a concession statement via Zoom from D.C.C.C. headquarters in Washington. “The right thing to do is say the other guy won and wish him well.”
Meanwhile, Lawler’s victory statement included a DJ Khaled-like “they ain’t believe in us” line as he bosted about flipping a House seat in the traditionally democratic NYC.
“A lot of people thought, ‘Ah, that’s nice, he’ll make it a race, but he’s going to lose,’” Lawler said.
So, how did Lawler manage to beat Maloney anyway?
More from the Times:
Mr. Lawler, a first-term assemblyman, had run a vigorous and sometimes vicious campaign against Mr. Maloney, characterizing him as out of touch, blasting out photographs of the congressman at a recent event in Paris, and suggesting he was having cocktails while his constituents struggled “with heating and grocery costs here at home.”
As that suggests, Mr. Lawler kept a consistent focus on the economy, inflation and energy costs, all issues of import in the 17th Congressional District, where many suburban communities are combating high property taxes. And like many Republicans in New York and nationwide, he also attacked Democratic policies on crime, another potent issue in New York City’s suburbs.
First of all, imagine a Republican coming for a Democrat for visiting Paris while his constituents struggled financially as if the GOP had the same energy when Ted Cruz was boarding a plane to Cancun while his constituents were freezing to death in their homes. But whatever—I suppose that’s the cost of Maloney prioritizing himself over the good of his party.
At the very least, Lawler doesn’t appear to be a MAGA Republican. As the Times noted, he wasn’t out here caping for Jan. 6 rioters like certain House Republicans. (I’m looking at you, Marjorie Taylor Greene.) And he rejected MAGA propaganda about the 2020 election being rigged against Donald Trump.
Still, this is a sad and frustrating loss for Democrats.