Who’s threatening House members in 2020

Hakeem Jeffries
Hakeem Jeffries
J Scott Applewhite/AP/Shutterstock
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.

Who’s threatening House members in 2020

After AOC, everybody wants to unseat a member of Congress.
August 6, 2019

Everything has changed. The people could rise up and knock anybody out. No one is safe.

That’s not the tagline for October’s hottest horror movie, but rather New York’s June 2020 congressional primaries, now less than a year away. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s primary win last year scared the bejesus out of some formerly comfortable Democratic incumbents, and subsequent losses by a series of state senators later in the year only upped the ante. Add in the razor-thin victory of proto-incumbent Melinda Katz in the Queens district attorney’s race, and you’ve got the recipe for an unpredictable primary season. 

Of course, this anti-incumbent, run-for-something spirit may backfire. Some members of Congress may benefit from multiple opponents splitting the anti-establishment vote, letting the incumbent waltz to victory. For other representatives, particularly those far from New York City, it’ll likely be business as usual as they win reelection against little-to-no formal opposition. And of course, Republicans are eager to win back the three seats Democrats flipped in 2018’s blue wave, while setting their sights on even more. But Democrats are coveting new seats as well, both upstate and on Long Island. 

Here’s how all 27 congressional races are shaping up across the state. This post is updated as of Aug 1.

Congressional District 1

Counties: Suffolk 

Incumbent: Lee Zeldin (R)

2016 presidential results: Trump +12

2018 Democratic primary results: Perry Gershon (D) 36%, Kate Browning (D) 30%, Vivian Viloria-Fisher (D) 16%, David Pechefsky (D) 12%, Elaine DiMasi (D) 6%

2018 general election results: Zeldin 51%, Gershon 47%

2020 declared candidates: Zeldin (R), Gershon (D), David Gokhshtein (I), Nancy Goroff (D)

In 2018, businessman Perry Gershon ran an unsuccessful bid for Rep. Lee Zeldin’s congressional seat on the eastern end of Long Island. Gershon spent big and came tantalizingly close to flipping the seat blue. Now, he’s trying again in 2020, and will likely argue once again that Zeldin’s ardent support for President Donald Trump is out of touch with the relatively moderate district that was represented by a Democrat until 2014. A second Democratic challenger, Nancy Goroff, entered the race in early July. Goroff was the chair of Stony Brook University’s chemistry department until she launched her campaign and claims she would be the first woman scientist in Congress who has a Ph.D. Also in the race is cryptocurrency entrepreneur and political neophyte David Gokhshtein, who is seeking the Independence Party line. 

Congressional District 2

Nassau and Suffolk counties 

Incumbent: Pete King (R)

2016 presidential results: Trump +9

2018 Democratic primary results: Liuba Grechen Shirley (D) 58%, DuWayne Gregory (D) 42%

2018 general election results: King 53%, Grechen Shirley 47%

2020 declared candidates: King (R), Jacqueline Gordon (D), Mike Sax (D)

A 14-term incumbent and a fixture in New York Republican politics, Rep. Pete King has mostly aligned himself with the president since the 2016 election. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has been gunning for King’s seat for years, seeing moderate Long Island as a pickup opportunity, but the party’s nominee, Liuba Grechen Shirley, fell short in 2018. Grechen-Shirley looks to be planning to run again after launching her Vote Mama PAC, but she hasn’t yet made a formal announcement. Two other Democrats have already filed their paperwork to challenge King in 2020: Jackie Gordon, a Babylon town board member and a retired lieutenant army colonel, and Mike Sax, an Islip resident who often blogs about impeaching Trump. 

Congressional District 3

Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties 

Incumbent: Thomas Suozzi (D)

2016 presidential results: Clinton +6

2018 Democratic primary results: Suozzi 100%

2018 general election results: Suozzi (D) 59%, Dan DeBono (R) 41%

2020 declared candidates: Suozzi (D), Melanie D’Arrigo (D), Michael Weinstock (D), Joshua Sauberman (I), Daniel Craig Ross (I) 

Democratic incumbent Rep. Thomas Suozzi went unchallenged in 2018, but now has a number of challengers eager to take him on. First off is Democratic activist and wellness professional Melanie D’Arrigo, who’s positioning herself as a far-left alternative to the more centrist Suozzi. D’Arrigo has said Suozzi has not gone far enough in condemning Trump’s immigration policies and that he is too cozy with corporate America. Then there’sMichael Weinstock, a gay former Brooklyn prosecutor, volunteer fireman and 9/11 first responder, who is running to the left of Suozzi, and is pledging to treat Queens residents equally in the Long Island-dominated district. Public relations consultant Robert Zimmerman, who ran for Congress once in the 1980s, reportedly sent a poll around the district asking voters how they feel about himself and Suozzi, but said that he will not be running. Joshua Sauberman, a former United Nations analyst who briefly challenged Suozzi in 2018, plans to run as an independent. Lastly there’s Daniel Craig Ross, who ran for state Senate in 2012, who’s running as an independent.

Congressional District 4

Nassau County

Incumbent: Kathleen Rice (D)

2016 presidential results: Clinton +10

2018 Democratic primary results: Rice 100%

2018 general election results: Rice (D) 61%, Ameer Benno (R) 39%

2020 candidates: Rice (D), David LeBlanc (D)

Third-term Rep. Kathleen Rice recently got national attention for leading the charge to replace House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2019, arguing that space needed to be made for younger generations in the House leadership. Rice is a centrist Democrat, who according to WNYC is one of the most likely House Democrats to work across the aisle. Running to the left of Rice is Merrick resident David LeBlanc, who supports liberal policies like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. LeBlanc had worked as a data analyst and project manager in the private health insurance industry until he joined the New York City Police Department in 2016.Another potential candidate is the leader of the Nassau County Legislature, Kevan Abrahams. He had a failed run against Rice in 2014 and said that he’s considering a run in 2020 but is undecided.

Congressional District 5

Queens and Nassau County

Incumbent: Gregory Meeks (D)

2016 presidential results: Clinton +73

2018 Democratic primary results: Meeks 82%, Carl Achille 10%, Mizan Choudhury 9%

2018 general results: Meeks 100%

2020 declared candidates: Meeks (D), Shaniyat Chowdhury (D)

Rep. Gregory Meeks, who entered Congress in 1997, was elected the chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party earlier this year. The well-funded, proud capitalist has never faced a serious challenge for his Southeast Queens seat, but will be one of many incumbent Democrats facing a challenge from the left in 2020 – in this case, from a 27-year-old democratic socialist military veteran and bartender, Shaniyat Chowdhury. The first-time candidate is a longshot, but is hoping to get support from the same progressive movement that got behind Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Queens district attorney candidate Tiffany Cabán. However, some of that coalition doesn’t seem interested; Brand New Congress, a progressive PAC that helped elect Ocasio-Cortez, told Buzzfeed News it’s working with a candidate who has yet to announce. 

Congressional District 6

Queens

Incumbent: Grace Meng (D)

2016 presidential results: Clinton +33

2018 primary results: Meng 100%

2018 general results: Meng (D) 91%, Tom Hillgardner (G) 9%

2020 declared candidates: Meng, Matthew DiBono (D), Sandra Choi (D), Melquiades Gagarin (D)

Rep. Grace Meng has comfortably won re-election since taking office in 2013. Next year, she’ll have a handful of primary challengers, includingMatthew DiBono, a recent Queensborough Community College graduate and first-time candidate. The white 36-year-old from Glendale isn’t running an ideologically focused campaign, instead telling City & State that he wants to bring “more realness” to the district and that Meng, who is Asian-American, “only really writes legislation or panders to her culture.” Mel Gagarin, a Filipino-American member of the Democratic Socialists of America, will challenge Meng from the left, supporting universal basic income and the abolition of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. He’s previously worked in politics, including on Tiffany Cabán’s campaign for Queens district attorney, and unsuccessfully ran for City Council in 2009. Sandra Choi doesn’t have information online and didn’t respond to a request for comment. Meng, who has built a national profile as a vice-chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, will not be hurting for institutional support in the primary if she needs it. 

Congressional District 7

Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens

Incumbent: Nydia Velázquez (D)

2016 presidential results: Clinton +77

2018 primary results: Velázquez 100%

2018 general results: Velázquez (D) 93%, Joseph Lieberman (C) 6%

2020 declared candidates: Velázquez (D), Avery Pereira (R)

As a 14-term Latina with progressive bona fides, Rep. Nydia Velázquez will likely avoid a primary challenge from the left, unlike many of her colleagues. At this point, her only challenger is Avery Pereira, a 20-something Republican district leader from Sunset Park who will have a very tough time in this deeply blue district. 

Congressional District 8

Brooklyn, Queens

Incumbent: Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D)

2016 presidential results: Clinton +71

2018 primary results: Jeffries 100%

2018 general results: Jeffries (D) 94%, Ernest Johnson (C) 5%

2020 declared candidates: Jeffries (D)

Less than seven years into his tenure in Congress, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries has taken a leadership position not just among the New York delegation, but all House Democrats as the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. His predecessor in that position, former Rep. Joe Crowley, showed that nobody is untouchable – but Jeffries is close to it, and unlikely to face a serious challenge. But that may not stop anti-establishment groups from trying. Politico reported in December that Jeffries was the “highest priority” target for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and leftist political group Justice Democrats – something Ocasio-Cortez later denied.

Congressional District 9

Brooklyn

Incumbent: Yvette Clarke (D) 

2016 presidential results: Clinton +69

2018 Democratic primary results: Clarke 52%, Adem Bunkeddeko 48%

2018 general results: Clarke (D) 89%, Lutchi Gayot (R) 10%

2020 declared candidates: Clarke, Bunkeddeko (D), Isiah James (D), Alexander Hubbard (D), Joel Azumah (I)

It seems that community development professional Adem Bunkeddeko’snearly successful challenge to seven-term Rep. Yvette Clarke last year has other candidates eager to mount their own campaigns. Bunkeddeko is itching for a rematch, and will likely once again accuse Clarke of being a do-nothing legislator. Isiah James, an Army veteran and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, will likely say Clarke isn’t progressive enough. And Alex Hubbard, a 30-year-old data scientist, promises to think outside the box. Also in the race is Joel Azumah, an independent who has run the last three cycles without having much of an impact. Having multiple Democratic challengers, plus the expected support of the Brooklyn Democratic establishment, could make Clarke difficult to unseat. 

Congressional District 10

Manhattan, Brooklyn

Incumbent: Jerrold Nadler (D)

2016 presidential results: Clinton +60

2018 primary results: Nadler 100%

2018 general results: Nadler (D) 82% Naomi Levin (R) 18%

2020 declared candidates: Nadler, Lindsey Boylan (D), Holly Lynch (D), Amanda Frankel (D), Jeanne Nigro (R)

Rep. Jerry Nadler was first elected to Congress in 1992 and hasn’t faced a serious electoral challenge since. The powerful House Judiciary chairman will have to campaign in 2020, though, thanks to a trio of younger female candidates challenging him with grassroots fervor and slick campaign websites. There’s Lindsey Boylan, a former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo who’s earnedpress by challenging Nadler on his hesitation to conduct impeachment proceedings for Trump. Holly Lynch, a former advertising executive, is running on a platform of reversing inequality. Amanda Frankel, a 25-year-old cryptocurrency analyst and leftist running an anti-establishment-focused campaign. Additionally, Jeanne Nigro, a Christian self-help minister, has filed to run as a Republican.Peter Daou, an impeachment-hungry former aide to Hillary Clinton, has joined Boylan’s campaign after threatening to run himself, but if Nadler keeps edging towards impeachment, it may undercut Boylan’s rationale for running – even if she takes credit for the House Judiciary Chairman’s shift. What’s more, if more than one anti-establishment challenger stays in the race until the primary, Nadler would be all but guaranteed victory. 

Congressional District 11

Staten Island, Brooklyn

Incumbent: Max Rose (D)

2016 presidential results: Trump +10

2018 Democratic primary results: Rose 65%, Michael DeVito 19%, Others combined 16%

2018 general results: Rose (D) 53%, Dan Donovan (R-incumbent) 47%

2020 declared candidates: Rose, Nicole Malliotakis (R), Joseph Saladino (R)

First-term Rep. Max Rose is a rare Democrat to represent the traditionally red Staten Island seat, and a number of Republicans are lining up for the primary, hoping to be the one to flip the seat in November 2020. Five-term Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis seems to be the front-runner and has already earned support from the national GOP establishment, which has helped her with fundraising.Joseph Saladino, a 25-year-old YouTube personality known for his pranks, has also declared. Former Republican Rep. Michael Grimm is expected to run again, despite resigning in 2015 after pleading guilty to felony tax fraud and falling short in the last cycle. Pro-Trump TV pundit and New York City Councilman Joe Borelli is also thought to be considering running in the Republican primary. Rose is unlikely to face a serious primary challenge, since Democrats see him as the best chance to hold onto the seat. 

Congressional District 12

Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn

Incumbent: Carolyn Maloney (D)

2016 presidential results: Clinton +70

2018 Democratic primary results: Maloney 59%, Suraj Patel 41%

2018 general results: Maloney (D) 86%, Eliot Rabin (R) 12%

2020 declared candidates: Maloney, Lauren Ashcraft (D), Erica Arden Vladimer (D)

It seems like everyone has their eyes on Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s three-borough seat, thanks to attorney and political operative Suraj Patel’s spirited 2018 primary challenge that exposed the 14-term congresswoman’s political vulnerabilities as the embodiment of the Upper East Side’s old-guard Democratic establishment. Patel is expected to run again, but this time it won’t be one-on-one. Erica Vladimer, a 32-year-old New York City budget staffer who gained prominence as a founding member of the state capitol’s Sexual Harrassment Working Group who accused state Sen. Jeff Klein of forcibly kissing her, has announced a run, saying it’s time for new blood. Ditto Lauren Ashcraft, a 30-year-old JP Morgan project manager and comedian running on a left-leaning platform of getting money out of politics. Other candidates are known to be considering runs as well, like Reshma Saujani, a tech nonprofit leader who lost to Maloney in the 2010 Democratic primary, 81-19, Pete Harrison, a housing activist and democratic socialist, and Dawn Smalls, an attorney whose 2019 New York City public advocate campaign impressed many politicos despite a sixth-place finish.

Congressional District 13

Manhattan, The Bronx

Incumbent: Adriano Espaillat (D)

2016 presidential results: Clinton +87

2018 primary results: Espaillat 100%

2018 general results: Espaillat (D) 95%, Jineea Butler (R) 5% 

2020 declared candidates: Espaillat, Richard Habersham (D)

Race has always been front and center in this district, and some observers saw the Dominican Republic-born Rep. Adriano Espaillat’s 2016 election as a sign that power was shifting from historically black Harlem and into the Latino stronghold of Washington Heights. That dynamic will be at play once again in 2020, with black Harlemite Richard Habersham mounting a primary challenge against Espaillat. First-time candidate Habersham, a real estate broker and former TV news reporter, has a compelling story, but will face an uphill battle against Espaillat, who has been in politics for decades and will likely have the Democratic establishment on his side.

Congressional District 14

Queens, The Bronx

Incumbent: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D)

2016 presidential results: Clinton +58

2018 Democratic primary results: Ocasio-Cortez 58%, Joe Crowley 43%

2018 general results: Ocasio-Cortez 78%, Anthony Pappas (R) 14%, Crowley (WFP) 7%

2020 declared candidates: Ocasio-Cortez, James Dillon (D), Badrun Khan (D), Miguel Hernandez (R), Ruth Papazian (R), Antoine Tucker (R), Jineea Butler (R), Scherie Murray (R), Rey Solano (R), John Cummings (R)

Who could have foreseen a crowded Republican primary in the Bronx? But the usual political logic flies out the window when we’re talking about first-term sensation Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose democratic socialist politics and media savvy have made her a national figure the GOP loves to hate. Republican Rich Valdes – who lives in New Jersey and hasn’t even filed for a run yet – got a piece in the New York Post for daring to approach her. The seven other Republicans (so far) competing for a brief moment on Fox News include Miguel Hernandez, an Upper East Side construction contractor; Ruth Papazian, a medical journalist; Antoine Tucker, an entrepreneur and former drug dealer; and Jineea Butler, a social worker who lost a 2018 congressional bid against Rep. Adriano Espaillat. There’s also Scherie Murray, a Jamaican-American businesswoman; Rey Solano, a business owner who ran unsuccessfully for City Council in 1997; and John Cummings, a high school teacher and former police officer. Mainline House Democrats have also reportedly mulled supporting a primary challenge to Ocasio-Cortez, but no serious candidates have emerged yet,  with potential challengers likely fearing national progressive pushback. For now just, James Dillon, who failed to make the ballot in a run 2018 run against Rep. Nydia Velázquez, and Badrun Khan, a member of Queens Community Board 2, are up for the challenge. 

Congressional District 15

The Bronx

Incumbent: José E. Serrano (D)

2016 presidential results: Clinton +89

2018 Democratic primary results: Serrano 100%

2018 general results: Serrano (D) 96%, Jason Gonzalez (R) 4%

2020 declared candidates: Michael Blake (D), Rubén Díaz Sr. (D), Ritchie Torres (D), Melissa Mark-Viverito (D), Tomas Ramos (D), Jonathan Ortiz (D), David Franks (D), Frangell Basora (D), Patrick Delices (R) 

After serving three decades in Congress, Rep. José E. Serrano isn’t seeking re-election next year, making this South Bronx seat the one-and-only (so far) open seat in the state. Nearly a dozen Democrats are jumping in the race, including a couple of prominant liberal elected officials, Assemblyman Michael Blake and New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres, who’s dominating fundraising so far by bringing in more than $500,000 in the first quarter. But some progressives fear the pair could split the liberal vote and hand the race to New York City Councilman Rubén Díaz Sr., the socially conservative Christian pastor with a long history of anti-gay remarks. Former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito also just announced a run. Other declared candidates include Tomas Ramos, a nonprofit program director, Jonathan Ortiz, a 33-year-old working in financial consulting, David Franks and Frangell Basora, running as Democrats, and Patrick Delices, declared as a Republican. Also reportedly planning a run is Eric Stevenson, a former Democratic Bronx assemblyman who served time in prison on bribery charges. State Sen.Gustavo Rivera signed up to run before dropping his bid in July. 

Congressional District 16

The Bronx, Westchester County

Incumbent: Eliot Engel (D)

2016 presidential results: Clinton +53

2018 Democratic primary results: Engel 74%, Jonathan Lewis 16%, Joyce Briscoe 6%, Derickson Lawrence 4%

2018 general results: Engel 100%

2020 declared candidates: Engel (D), Kenneth Belvin (D), Andom Ghebreghiorgis (D), Jamaal Bowman (D), Samuel Ravelo (D)

Last year, 16-term Democratic incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel easily defeated three primary challengers and ran unopposed in the general. Engel will still be the odds-on favorite for reelection in 2020, but he’ll likely be facing more of a challenge than before with a trio of candidates coming at him from the left. Jamaal Bowman, a Bronx middle school teacher, has already received some attention from national press thanks to his backing from the Justice Democrats, a progressive political action committee aligned with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Like Ocasio-Cortez before him, Bowman is making the case that the district needs a younger, more progressive candidate of color. Andom Ghebreghiorgis, a special education teacher, is also planning to run to Engel’s left, criticizing the incumbent for taking money from corporate PACs. Bowman and Ghebreghiorgis have both stated that they will not be taking any money from corporate PACs and that their campaigns will rely on small donations. The two challengers have both come out against Engel’s foreign policy record, which includes voting for the Iraq War. Another Democratic challenger, Kenny Belvin, said he stands for progressive policies like the Green New Deal and canceling student debt. At age 24, a win by the New Rochelle native would make him the youngest member of Congress. The fourth Democratic primary opponent to Engel is Sammy Ravelo, a Gulf War veteran and retired NYPD lieutenant.

Congressional District 17

Westchester and Rockland counties

Incumbent: Nita Lowey (D)

2016 presidential results: Clinton +20

2018 primary results: Lowey 100%

2018 general results: Nita Lowey (D) 88%, Joe Ciardullo (Reform) 12%

2020 declared candidates: Lowey (D), Luz Awilda Moreno Casanova (D) Mondaire Jones (D), Jarred Buchanan (R)

Since she first won her seat in 1988, Rep. Nita Lowey has been an uncontested incumbent. Currently serving her 15th term in Congress, and her first as chairwoman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, Lowey is sure to receive establishment support. Her first primary challenge since getting elected will come in the 2020 election cycle, from Democrat Lucy Moreno Casanova, a nonprofit project coordinator from Yonkers who lost her June bid for county Legislature. Also joining the race is Democrat Mondaire Jones, who served in the Obama administration’s Justice Department and the Westchester County Law Department. Jones is a self-described reformer who thinks that Lowey is no longer a strong enough voice for the district. 

Congressional District 18

Lower Hudson Valley

Incumbent: Sean Patrick Maloney (D)

2016 presidential results: Trump +2

2018 Democratic primary results: Sean Patrick Maloney 100%

2018 general results: Sean Patrick Maloney (D) 56%, James O’Donnell (R) 45%

2020 declared candidates: Maloney (D), Chele Farley (R), Scott Smith (I)

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who has represented New York’s 18th District since 2013, is facing challenges from both a Republican and an independent in 2020. Maloney’s challenge from the right comes from Chele Farley, a Republican who ran against US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2018. Farley’s campaign claimed to have raised $200,000 from donors within a week of announcing her candidacy and has $266,214.28 in its coffers according to the most recent FEC filings. Farley told City & State in a May interview that her campaign is focused on reducing energy costs, lowering taxes and updating infrastructure. She also said she appreciated President Donald Trump’s support for her 2018 Senate campaign and will be voting for him in 2020. Maloney’s independent challenger is Scott Smith, a middle school science teacher who has raised a modest $457 so far.

Congressional District 19

Upper Hudson Valley and the Catskills

Incumbent: Antonio Delgado (D)

2016 presidential results: Trump +7

2018 Democratic primary results: Antonio Delgado 22%, Gareth Rhodes 18%, Pat Ryan 18%, Brian Flynn 13%, Jeff Beals 13%, Dave Clegg 11%, Erin Collier 5%

2018 general results: Antonio Delgado (D) 51%, John Faso (R-incumbent) 46%

2020 declared candidates: Antonio Delgado (D), Michael Roth (R)

In the 2018 midterms Rep. Antonio Delgado unseated the Republican incumbent John Faso in a contentious race that became racially charged. Delgado is a Rhodes Scholar and a Harvard Law School graduate who was targeted in the election for his brief career as a rapper. His fundraising prowess and an endorsement from former President Barack Obama helped bring him over the top and flip the seat from red to blue. Democrats are eager to hold on to the seat, so Delgado is unlikely to face a primary challenge, but national Republicans have already targeted it as a flippable district that Trump won in 2016.Republican Michael Roth filed his campaign with the FEC but little information is available about him. 

Congressional District 20

Capital Region

Incumbent: Paul Tonko (D)

2016 presidential results: Clinton +13

2018 primary results: Tonko 100%

2018 general results: Tonko (D) 67%, Joe Vitollo (R) 34%

2020 declared candidates: Paul Tonko (D), Elizabeth Joy (R)

Rep. Paul Tonko, currently serving his sixth term, has been in the House since 2009 and handily defeated his 2018 Republican opponent Joe Vitollo in his upstate district. Newcomer Republican Elizabeth (Liz) Joy announced her campaign for Tonko’s seat in May. She’s a Schenectady resident and a real estate agent who is positioning herself as a hard-line conservative candidate. On her website she states that she is running on border security, pro-life policies, cutting taxes and keeping private health insurance. Joy has raised $23,415 according to her most recent FEC filing.

Congressional District 21

The North Country

Incumbent: Elise Stefanik (R)

2016 presidential results: Trump +14

2018 Democratic primary results: Tedra Cobb: 56%, Dylan Ratigan 12%, Katie Wilson 12%, Emily Martz 10%, Patrick Nelson 9%, Don Boyajian 1%

2018 general results: Stefanik (R) 56%, Cobb (D) 42% 

2020 declared candidates: Stefanik (R), Cobb (D)

Incumbent Rep. Elise Stefanik and Tedra Cobb are looking to rehash 2018. Stefanik is running on her record in Congress, and Cobb is already hitting her for it. Stefanik released an ad shortly after Cobb’s campaign announcement highlighting her failure to win in the midterm and bringing back her nickname for her opponent, “Taxin’ Tedra.” Their rivalry has only kept heating up, with Cobb calling out Stefanik’s campaign donations, while Stefanik tweeted that Cobb is wishy-washy on impeachment and gun control.

Another potential Democratic rival, former MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan, has said he does not plan to run again.

Congressional District 22

Central New York

Incumbent: Anthony Brindisi (D)

2016 presidential results: Trump +16

2018 Democratic primary results: Brindisi 100%

2018 general results: Brindisi (D) 51%, Claudia Tenney (R-incumbent) 49%

2020 declared candidates: Anthony Brindisi (D), George Karl Phillips (R), Franklin Walton Sager (R), Stephen Cornwell (R)

In the midterm, Rep. Anthony Brindisi narrowly defeated the one-term Trump diehard Republican incumbentClaudia Tenney. Brindisi’s politically moderate positions earned him an endorsement from former Republican Rep. Sherwood Boehlert. He now holds a seat on the House Committee on Agriculture, which he has used to strengthen his position as an advocate for Central New York’s farmers. With Democrats eager to hold on to the seat in 2020, he’s unlikely to face a serious primary, but a couple Republicans have already lined up to challenge him: George Phillips or Franklin Walton. Phillips, a history teacher, is not new to the campaign trail, having already run for Congress three times, while Walton is framing himself as a proud Trump supporter in a district that the president won handily. Broome County District Attorney Stephen Cornwellofficially joined the already crowded Republican primary this summer. Tenney herself is reportedly closer to reaching a decision on running again.

Congressional District 23

Western New York

Incumbent: Thomas Reed (R)

2016 presidential results: Trump +15

2018 primary results: Tracy Mitrano 32%, Max Della Pia 32%, Linda Andrei 15%, Ian Golden 13%, Edward Sundquist 6%

2018 general results: Reed (R) 54%, Mitrano (D) 46%

2020 declared candidates: Reed (R), Mitrano (D), Scott Noren (D)

Republican incumbent Tom Reed highlights his role as one of the leaders of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus that has recently taken on infrastructure as a top priority. And all of the local Republican Party chairmen in the district approve of the work he’s done with the bipartisan group. Reed is running to secure a sixth and possibly final term. The congressman has been a vocal supporter of term limits in the past.

Tracy Mitrano alsorecently received endorsements from local party leaders. The cybersecurity expert announced at the beginning of 2019 that she would take another swing at trying to knock the five-term congressman out of his seat. But before that happens, she'll face a challenge from moderate Scott Noren, who ran as a write-in candidate for U.S. Senate in 2018. Noren has yet to raise any money.

Congressional District 24

Central New York

Incumbent: John Kakto (R)

2016 presidential results: Clinton +4

2018 Democratic primary results: Dana Balter 62%, Juanita Perez Williams 37%

2018 general results: Katko (R) 53%, Balter (D) 47%

2020 declared candidates: Katko (R), Balter (D), Roger Misso (D), Francis Conole (D)

Rep. John Katko officially announced his re-election bid in July, touting pragmatism and thanking his district for the support he’d already received. He is likely to be unopposed in the Republican primary, and has already been endorsed by the Onondaga County Republicans. He has disagreed with Trump in the past, signalling a willingness to break with the president in a district that supported Clinton in 2016. In recent history the district has flip-flopped between red and blue, and Democrats are hoping 2020 is their shot to turn it blue again. 

Syracuse University professor Dana Balter ran a close race against Katko in 2018, and is already earning institutional backing, including an endorsement from the Democracy for America PAC. But before she can get to a rematch, she’ll have to face two U.S. Navy veterans, Roger Misso and Francis Conole, in the Democratic primary. Conole, in particular, has raised more money than Balter since announcing, despite swearing off donations from corporate political action committees. 

Congressional District 25

Monroe County

Incumbent: Joseph Morelle (D)

2016 presidential results: Clinton +16

2018 Democratic primary results: Joseph Morelle 45%, Rachel Barnhart 20%, Adam McFadden 17%, Robin Wilt 17%

2018 general results: Morelle (D) 59%, Jim Maxwell (R) 41%

2020 declared candidates: Joseph Morelle (D), Robin Wilt (D)

Rochester and its suburbs are in for a primary rematch, with former Brighton Town Board member Robin Wilt challenging Rep. Joseph Morelle. Wilt came in third in the primary for longtime incumbent Rep. Louise Slaughter’s seat, behind Morelle and Rachel Barnhart. Wilt touts a list of progressive priorities, but in the last electionMorelle, a former assemblyman, easily won the traditionally blue seat.

Congressional District 26

Erie and Niagara counties

Incumbent: Brian Higgins (D)

2016 presidential results: Clinton +20

2018 Democratic primary results: Higgins 100%

2018 general results: Higgins (D) 73%, Renee Zeno (R) 28%

2020 declared candidates: Higgins (D)

Veteran Rep. Brian Higgins is still the only candidate in the race. There have been rumors that the progressive PAC, Justice Democrats, which backed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez last year, is trying to recruit a primary challenger in the district, but no one has taken the bait. The group did not elaborate on any disagreement the might have with Higgins.

Emin “Eddie” Egriu announced he will mount a primary challenge against the congressman for a second time, although he does not appear to have officially registered with the FEC. Egriu ran against Higgins in 2014 but did not qualify for the ballot.

Higgins has called for the House Judiciary Committee to open an impeachment investigation into the president and indicated he wants more information from Mueller about his report. Considering the importance of health care to voters in the 2018 midterms, it’s likely Higgins will run on his attempts to expand Medicare and work on infrastructure legislation.

Congressional District 27

Western New York

Incumbent: Chris Collins (R)

2016 presidential results: Trump +25

2018 Republican primary results: Collins 100%

2018 general results: Collins (R) 49.1%, Nate McMurray (D) 48.8%, Other 2%

2020 declared candidates: Collins (R), Christopher Jacobs (R), Duane James Whitmer (L)

Republican Incumbent Rep. Chris Collins is facing the prospect of a tough reelection campaign. Following his indictment on insider trading charges and the loss of his position on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the congressman has both a primary challenger and a looming February 2020 trial in federal court. Collins maintains his innocence and has said he’ll announce his plans to run later this year, despite his primary challenger, state Sen. Christopher Jacobs already declaring his candidacy. Even though he has yet to officially announce, Collins’ is already fundraising, and loaned his campaign $500,000 in June. 

Jacobs is positioning himself as a reliable conservative alternative to ensure the district remains in Republican hands. Jacobs has indicated his support for Republican priorities and the president’s agenda, but Collins has attempted to dub Jacobs a “Never-Trumper” – potentially damaging in a deeply red district. Collins’ MAGA bonafides are secure – he was the first member of Congress to endorse the president in 2016 and has voted with the president 99% of the time. Local lawyer and Fox News commentator Beth Parlato is reported to be considering running for the 27th; following a wave of mostly Democratic women elected to the House in 2018, she says she is looking to represent conservative women. 

Also reportedly considering a run is Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia. The military veteran insists he is focused on his active duty tour and is barred from running by the Hatch Act. However, his supporters are trying to nudge him towards a run by starting a website illustrating his positions based on his 2012 Congressional bid.

If Collins wins the primary, his 2018 Democratic challenger, Grand Island Supervisor Nate McMurray, has said he’ll run again, though he hasn’t filed yet for 2020. Also in the race is libertarian Duane James Whitmer, an accountant. 

Jeff Coltin
is a staff reporter at City & State. He covers New York City Hall.
Ethan Stark-Miller
is an editorial intern at City & State.
Emma Bolton
is an editorial intern at City & State.
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