The political picture in the Hudson Valley has changed dramatically in the past day. Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney now turns his attention to seeking a fourth term in the House after his loss in the Democratic primary for state attorney general. Meantime, after a number of blows to members of the now dissolved Senate Independent Democratic Conference, one who survived his primary is now focused on mending fences and winning the general election.
Congressman Maloney of the 18th House District finished third in a four-way primary race for attorney general. In a statement, he says, in part, “With Trump in the White House, it’s never been more important that Democrats take back Congress. You can bet that I’ll do my part to make sure we do.” Maloney faces Republican Orange County Legislator James O’Donnell in November. O’Donnell has been criticizing Maloney for turning his attention away from the district and being an absentee representative.
“I’m glad that I finally have an opponent that I can actually name that we can have, debate the issues and get to the people before the congressional district, the 18th, and see what happens in November,” O’Donnell says. “It doesn’t really change what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis.”
During a June conference call with reporters, Maloney spoke about why he decided to jump into the race for attorney general, and addressed what would happen with his congressional seat.
“If I lose the attorney general’s race, I will go back to the people of my district and say, I would love to keep serving you in Washington, if you’ll have me,” says Maloney.
“It’s time for a change,” says O’Donnell. “It’s time to put someone down there that actually knows the district, knows how to get from point A to point B without a GPS.”
The 18th District includes Orange and Putnam Counties and parts of Dutchess, including the City of Poughkeepsie, and northern Westchester. Brett Broge is chair of the Orange County Democratic Committee.
“Well, it certainly allows us to immediately focus on helping all of the races rather than being distracted by certainly the process of replacing the congressman on the ballot,” says Broge. “So, in that sense, one of the upsides of the results last night was that we do get to, we have a lot of certainty now as to what our ticket’s going to be. And we’re certainly going to turn our attention to supporting entire ticket, from the state assembly races all the way up to the governor’s race.”
Dr. Christopher Mann is assistant professor of Political Science at Skidmore College. He believes Democrats will continue supporting Maloney for Congress, but says there could be trouble further along the road.
“I don’t think Maloney will suffer in this election. He may run the risk of a 2020 primary challenge, and I certainly think Republicans may try to find a stronger challenger to him in the future with this absentee charge or knowing that he has ambitions elsewhere, that he may in the situation of leaving the district again,” Mann says. “And it may create lots of problems for him in the future.”
Meantime, six of the eight former Independent Democratic Conference, or IDC, members in the state Senate lost their Democratic primaries. The two who won are Diane Savino, who represents parts of New York City, and the Hudson Valley’s David Carlucci, whose 38th District includes most of Rockland County and a piece of Westchester.
“Well, I can only speak for my race and my district, and the IDC is in the past,” says Carlucci.
Professor Mann believes the former IDC members will garner the support of the progressives in their party.
“I think it’s a case where even progressive Democrats, they may not like it, they may be holding their nose, but they’ll vote for these former IDC members as the Democratic nominee,” Mann says.
Carlucci defeated educator Julie Goldberg.
“And I’m looking forward to working with the people that supported me in the primary, those that voted against me in the primary, working with my opponent,” Carlucci says. “We’ve exchanged messages already about uniting the Democratic Party, to use this passion that we have, use this energy, and to collectively be in one force to take back the New York state Senate so that we can have a Democratic majority and pass legislation that, unfortunately, has lingered for too long.”
Carlucci’s Republican opponent in the general election is former Rockland County Executive Scott Vanderhoef.