Democrats are targeting a half-dozen Republican House members in New York. Here are the candidates lining up to challenge them in 2018.

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Democrats are targeting a half-dozen Republican House members in New York. Here are the candidates lining up to challenge them in 2018.

Democrats are targeting a half-dozen Republican House members in New York. Here are the candidates lining up to challenge them in 2018.
December 12, 2017

Earlier this year, Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act so outraged New York Democrats that they launched a campaign to defeat local GOP House members. Gov. Andrew Cuomo took a lead role in the campaign, which is targeting six GOP incumbents: Reps. Chris Collins, John Faso, Tom Reed, Elise Stefanik, Claudia Tenney and Lee Zeldin.

While the effort to end Obamacare failed, the stakes were raised when a sweeping Republican tax reform package advanced through both houses of Congress. The U.S. Senate and House still must be reconcile their versions of the legislation, but New York is among the states expected to bear the biggest fiscal burden as a result of the changes.

Looking ahead to 2018, here’s a rundown of the candidates seeking to challenge the six New York Republican incumbents in the House, including key votes and fundraising totals as well as how competitive the races look according to three leading election analysts – Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, Inside Elections with Nathan Gonzales/Roll Call and The Cook Political Report.

RELATED: Why didn't Cuomo bring the fight to Republicans sooner?


Chris Collins

Sabato: Safe R
Roll Call: Solid R
Cook: Solid R

Rep. Chris Collins, first elected in 2012, is seeking re-election in the 27th Congressional District. The former Erie County executive was the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump for president. He has remained a loyal Trump ally in Congress, voting to repeal Obamacare and to approve the Republican tax reform plan.

Collins has been dogged by an investigation into allegations of insider trading, but he enjoys a sizeable voter registration advantage in his district and saw one potentially promising Democratic challenger, Erin Cole, already drop out. As of September, Collins had raised nearly $630,000 and spent more than $320,000 this election cycle.

Sean Bunny – The Democrat, a former Erie County assistant district attorney and U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq, announced his candidacy in October.

Tom Casey – The retired environmental engineer is also seeking the Democratic nomination, although he is not listed as a candidate by the Federal Election Commission.

Nicholas Stankevich – The Mumford businessman and startup founder announced his bid for the Democratic nod in October as well. 


John Faso

Sabato: Toss-up
Roll Call: Tilt R
Cook: Toss-up

In March, Collins and Rep. John Faso added an amendment to the House Republicans’ Obamacare repeal legislation that would have shifted Medicaid costs from New York’s counties to the state. New York Democrats have been on the attack ever since.

While Faso voted “yes” on the Obamacare repeal, he bucked the party by voting “no” on the GOP’s tax reform legislation. Nonetheless, he is seen as vulnerable in the 19th Congressional District, which has slightly more Democrats than Republicans.

Faso has already drawn a crowd of opponents in the Hudson Valley, although two Democrats have alreadydropped out. Like last year, when Faso was first elected to Congress by beating Zephyr Teachout, the contest could be one of the most expensive races in the country.

David CleggClegg is a longtime attorney, a recently ordained Methodist deacon and the chairman of the Ulster County Human Rights Commission.

Antonio DelgadoThe campaign of this Rhinebeck attorney has raised more than $1 million, outpacing every other candidate, including Faso.

Brian FlynnFlynn is a small-business owner and entrepreneur. Apart from national policy issues, he also has focused on terrorism since his brother was killed in the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. He has raised more than $1 million, trailing only Delgado.

Gareth Rhodes – Rhodes is a former Cuomo press aide. His campaign has garnered support from alumni of the Obama and Cuomo administrations.

Jeffrey Beals – Now a teacher, Beals has had a career in foreign policy, beginning as a CIA intelligence officer and later became a diplomat in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The Woodstock resident also played a role in drafting the Iraqi Constitution.

Pat RyanRyan is a West Point-trained Army intelligence officer who served two combat tours in Iraq. He now works as a technology entrepreneur and is working on improving cybersecurity.


Tom Reed

Sabato: Likely R
Roll Call: Solid R
Cook: Solid R

Rep. Tom Reed, a four-term Republican representing the 23rd Congressional District, is seeking another two years in office. The former mayor of Corning voted along party lines to support the Obamacare repeal effort and the pending GOP tax reform plan.

He is seen as likely to win re-election due to a Republican voter registration advantage in his district. Nonetheless, eight Democrats and two independents – James Clasby and John Hertzler – are trying to unseat Reed, who has raised nearly $1.4 million, easily the highest total of any candidate.

Linda Andrei Andrei, a retired cardiologist, is touting her medical background in her campaign against Reed. 

Max Della PiaDella Pia, a Democrat, retired as a colonel from the U.S. Air Force and has worked for Lockheed Martin in Owego. He raised $7,000 as of September.

Rick GallantGallant, an educator, sits on the board of directors of New York State United Teachers. The Democratic contender has raised more than $33,000.

Ian GoldenGolden, a Democrat and small business owner, has raised nearly $40,000.

Tracy Mitrano – The former director of information technology policy at Cornell University, consultant and town board member is also seeking the Democratic nomination.

Eddie Sundquist – The lawyer has raised more than $45,000 for his bid, more than any of his Democratic rivals but well short of matching Reed.

Karl Warrington – Warrington, a self-described “progressive” and a Presbyterian minister, is also running as a Democrat.

Charles Whalen – Whalen, who used to work for the Congressional Budget Office, is running as a Democrat as well.

RELATED: The Albany Power 100


Elise Stefanik

Sabato: Safe R
Roll Call: Solid R
Cook: Solid R

Rep. Elise Stefanik is running for a third term in the 21st Congressional District. When she first took office, Stefanik was the youngest congresswoman in history at the age of 30. She easily won re-election in 2016, and is considered likely to win again in 2018.
Stefanik faces seven challengers so far, including fellow Republican Russell Finley and six Democrats. Stefanik, who voted to repeal Obamacare, but voted “no” on the GOP tax reform plan, so far has raised more than $855,000, more than any rival.

Tanya Boone – Boone, a former union organizer and small business owner from Granville, entered the Democratic primary field in October

Don BoyajianBoyajian, a Democrat, is an environmental and municipal attorney from Saratoga County. The political newcomer previously worked for then-Rep. Mike McMahon. He has raised $208,000, the highest total among Stefanik’s challengers.

Tedra Cobb – Cobb, the president and owner of Tedra L. Cobb & Associates, served in the St. Lawrence County Legislature for eight years until 2010. The Democratic candidate has the third highest fundraising total, with $129,000.

Russell Finley – Finley, a beef cattle farmer and real estate broker from St. Lawrence County, is mounting a primary challenge against Stefanik. Previously, Finley made two failed bids for the Assembly.

Ronald Kim – Kim, a Democrat, served as commissioner of public safety for Saratoga Springs until 2010 and as an attorney in private practice since 2000.

Emily Martz – Martz has worked as a professor at the University of Delaware and Paul Smith’s College and as director of operations and finance of Adirondack North Country Association. The Democrat, who is new to politics, has raised more than $50,000.

Patrick Nelson – The 28-year-old Democratic contender worked on past Democratic congressional campaigns in the district and was a Bernie Sanders delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Katie Wilson – Wilson, a Democrat, is the owner of The Adirondack Attic in Keene, and is campaigning on a platform of supporting small businesses in the North Country and expanding broadband internet service.


Claudia Tenney

Sabato: Toss-up
Roll Call: Tilt R
Cook: Lean R

Rep. Claudia Tenney, a first-term House Republican representing New York’s 22nd Congressional District, is rated as one of the state’s more vulnerable GOP incumbents.

The former assemblywoman will be facing off against a familiar face in 2018, with Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi seeking to make her a one-term congresswoman.

Tenney, who voted to repeal Obamacare, expressed reservations about the GOP tax reform plan but ultimately voted for it as well. She has raised $875,000 so far.

Anthony Brindisi – Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi of Utica has been in the Assembly since he won a September 2011 special election. As of September, Brindisi had raised $454,000, while Tenney had nearly twice that amount. However, Brindisi outpaced the incumbent in the most recent fundraising cycle. An October poll showed Brindisi with a narrow lead over Tenney, but it’s important to note that the poll was conducted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.


Lee Zeldin

Sabato: Likely R
Roll Call: Solid R
Cook: Likely R

Rep. Lee Zeldin is in his second term representing the 1st Congressional District. Prior to entering politics, Zeldin served in the U.S. Army and was also a state senator. The Long Island Republican serves as a co-chairman of the House Republican Israel Caucus and has been outspoken about the Islamic State group and the need for a more muscular foreign policy. While he voted to repeal Obamacare, he voted “no” on the tax reform plan, prompting House Speaker Paul Ryan to take all the money from a fundraiser that had been intended to help Zeldin’s re-election campaign, which has raised more than $1.5 million.

While Zeldin’s seat is rated as solid or likely Republican, six Democrats so far have thrown their hats in the ring.

Kate Browning – As a Suffolk County legislator, Browning is the only candidate in the race currently in elected office. She recently switched her registration from the Working Families Party to the Democratic Party. 

Elaine DiMasi – The Democrat was the second candidate who announced she will challenge Zeldin. DiMasi, who left her profession as a physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory to challenge Zeldin, said she’s a “Scientist for Congress.” Her campaign has raised nearly $55,000.

Perry Gershon – Gershon has raised more than $500,000 for his Democratic bid, more than any candidate except the incumbent. But the political neophyte and real estate financier is from Manhattan and only recently registered to vote in the district, which could open him up to attacks that he’s not in touch with local voters.

Brendon Henry –The bartender and first-time candidate is focused on the working class. The Democrat, who had raised only $10,000 as of September, said he will have to raise $5 million to challenge Zeldin.

David Pechefsky – The Democratic candidate has experience as a staffer in the New York City Council, doing international development work and as a nonprofit adviser. He has raised $170,000.

Vivian Viloria-FisherVivian Viloria-Fisher is one of two Democrats in the race with experience in elected office, having spent 13 years in the Suffolk County Legislature. She has raised more than $100,000 for her congressional bid.

Editor's note: This post has been updated with details about additional candidates, including Kate Browning, Tanya Boone and Linda Andrei.

Meeran Karim
Brad Sylvester
Tiffany S. Thomas