Who’s threatening House members in 2020

New York republicans are eager to win back the three seats Democrats flipped in 2018’s blue wave.
New York republicans are eager to win back the three seats Democrats flipped in 2018’s blue wave.
New York republicans are eager to win back the three seats Democrats flipped in 2018’s blue wave.

Who’s threatening House members in 2020

After AOC, everybody wants to unseat a member of Congress.
November 11, 2019

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

That’s not the tagline for this year’s hottest horror movie, but rather New York’s June 2020 congressional primaries, now just months 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. That’s not to mention the four open seats, two currently held by Democrats and two by Republicans – including one in Western New York that’s expected to be filled in a spring special election.

Here’s how all 27 congressional races are shaping up across the state. This post is updated as of Dec. 17.

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), Bridget Fleming (D), Gregory-John Fischer (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. But Gershon has some competition for the Democratic nomination. Nancy Goroff was the chair of Stony Brook University’s chemistry department until she launched her campaign, and she claims she would be the first woman scientist in Congress who has a Ph.D. Bridget Fleming, a Suffolk County legislator and former Manhattan prosecutor, is also running, as is Gregory-John Fischer, a business consultant who has failed in previous runs for Suffolk County executive – as a libertarian – and for state Senate as a Democrat.

Also in the race is cryptocurrency entrepreneur and political neophyte David Gokhshtein, who is seeking the Independence Party line. Zeldin, one of only two Jewish Republican in the House, is an Army veteran and an ardent Trump supporter. He’s been compiling a huge war chest for what’s likely to be a tough re-election battle in the swing district.

Congressional District 2

Nassau and Suffolk counties 

Incumbent: Peter 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: Jacqueline Gordon (D), Mike Sax (D), Johanna Ellerup (D),Nicholas LaLota (R), Patricia Bergin (R), Andrew Garbarino (R)

Rep. Peter King, the 14-term incumbent and fixture in New York Republican politics, announced on Veterans Day he wouldn’t be running for re-election, kickstarting what’s sure to be a fierce tussle for the seat from both parties. While the district voted for Trump in 2016, the area – and many suburban districts nationally – seem to be drifting blue, making the seat a target for Democrats. Though some thought King’s retirement would open the floodgates to new candidates, it looks like Democrats may stick with Jackie Gordon, a Babylon town board member and a retired lieutenant army colonel who was already running against King. Other Democratic candidates include Mike Sax, an Islip resident who often blogs about impeaching Trump, and Johanna Ellerup, a pharmacist and author of metaphysical novels. Premier Democrats like Liuba Grechen Shirley, who ran a strong campaign as the Democratic nominee in 2018, and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone have both announced they will not be running.

On the Republican side, candidates includeAssemblyman Andrew Garbarino, an attorney who has served in the state Legislature since 2012, Patricia (Trish) Bergin, an Islip Town councilwoman who once dated Billy Joel, and Nicholas LaLota, a Navy veteran and the Republican Suffolk County Board of Elections commissioner. But other, higher profile candidates may jump in yet, including state Sen. Phil Boyle, Assemblyman Mike LiPetri and former Rep. Rick Lazio.

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), 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’s Michael 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. Lastly there’s Daniel Craig Ross, who managed a car dealership and once ran for state Senate in 2012, and is running as an independent. Public relations consultant Robert Zimmerman, who ran for the seat in the 1980’s, considered a run, but has decided to stay out. And Joshua Sauberman, a former United Nations analyst and insurance broker who briefly challenged Suozzi in 2018 planned to run again in 2020, but has since dropped out and endorsed D’Arrigo.

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), Amit Lal (I) 

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. Also in the race is Amit Lal, a logistics coordinator at a shipping company who says he can work both sides of the aisle as a registered independent. At the moment, neither Chowdhury nor Lal have reported raising any campaign funds. 

Congressional District 6


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 (D), 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, including Matthew 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. Also challenging Meng from the left is Sandra Choi, an economic policy expert, who has attacked Meng’s machine ties. Choi grew up in Queens and her parents immigrated from South Korea. 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), Paperboy Prince (D)

As a 14-term Latina with progressive bona fides, Rep. Nydia Velázquezisn’t likely to face much of a challenge, unlike many of her colleagues. That’s not stopping Bushwick-based performance artistPaperboy Prince from trying to garner attention with a run. Prince, a major supporter of Andrew Yang’s presidential campaign, is running a left-leaning campaign based on support for a universal basic income. A 20-something Republican district leader from Sunset Park, Avery Pereira, also planned to mount an unlikely challenge against Velázquez, but has since dropped out. 

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), Abe Jamie Garcia (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. His only opponent so far is Abe Jamie Garcia, an insurance salesman and president of the Howard Beach Kiwanis Club.

Congressional District 9


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), Michael Hiller (D), Joel Azumah (I), Lutchi Gayot (D)

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 has been 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. Michael Hiller, a plaintiff-side litigator, will also run on a progressive platform. Alex Hubbard, a 30-year-old data scientist, promises to think outside the box, and Lutchi Gayot, who ran unsuccessfully as a Republican in 2018, is running this cycle as a Democrat. 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), Jonathan Herzog (D), Darryl Hendricks (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 flurry of challengers, led by Lindsey Boylan, a former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo who says Nadler isn’t active enough. There’s also Jonathan Herzog, a former Andrew Yang presidential campaign staffer advocating for universal basic income, and Darryl Hendricks, a personal trainer who is running a tech-focused campaign. Holly Lynch, a former advertising executive, and Amanda Frankel, a 25-year-old cryptocurrency analyst, had also launched campaigns, but have both dropped out of the race. On the Republican side, Christian self-help minister Jeanne Nigro has filed to run. 

Boylan had previously hit Nadler on his hesitancy to impeach Trump, even bringing on Peter Daou, an impeachment-hungry former aide to Hillary Clinton who once threatened to run himself, as an advisor. But now that Nadler and House Democrats have begun impeachment proceedings, 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, the popular and highly visible 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 Caldarera (R), Richard-Oliver Marius (D)

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. But Joe Caldarera, a 27-year-old, staunchly conservative former assistant district attorney in Brooklyn, is challenging Malliotakis, arguing she isn’t conservative enough. Joseph Saladino, a 25-year-old YouTube personality known as “Joey Salads,” was mounting a run on similar grounds, but dropped out in December and endorsed Caldarera. Other high-profile Republicans had been known to be considering runs, including former Rep. Michael Grimm, who resigned in 2015 after pleading guilty to felony tax fraud, and New York City Councilman Joe Borelli, a pro-Trump TV pundit, but as the race inches closer, late additions seem less likely. On the Democratic side, Rose seems unlikely to face a serious primary challenge, since Democrats see him as the best chance to hold onto the seat, but Richard-Olivier Marius, a workforce development manager at the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce and member of the Democratic Socialists of America who declines to identify as a democratic socialist, has filed to challenge Rose. 

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, Patel (D), Lauren Ashcraft (D), Erica Arden Vladimer (D), Peter Harrison (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 will be challenging her once 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 living in Queens who’s running on a left-leaning platform of getting money out of politics. Peter Harrison, a housing activist and democratic socialist, will also be challenging Maloney from the left. Dawn Smalls, an attorney whose 2019 New York City public advocate campaign impressed many politicos despite a sixth-place finish, is also considering a run, after reportedly creating an exploratory committee in May, but her fledgling campaign has been quiet ever since.

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 (D), Richard Habersham (D), James Felton Keith (D), Pedro Lopez (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 Harlemites Richard Habersham and James Felton Keith mounting primary challenges against Espaillat. First-time candidate Habersham, a real estate broker and former TV news reporter, has a compelling story, and “JFK,” a bisexual entrepreneur who briefly ran last cycle, has put together a slick campaign running on idiosyncratic policies like creating a Universal Basic Income. Also in the race is Pedro Lopez, whose campaign says he will be running as an “ultra progressive.” All of them will face an uphill battle against Espaillat, who has been in politics for decades and will likely have the full force of 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, Fernando Cabrera (D), Jose Velazquez (D), 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), Israel Ortega Cruz (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; Israel Ortega Cruz, a climate change denier branding himself as “IOC” and John Cummings, a high school teacher and former police officer. Politically moderate Democrats want to run against her too, led by New York City Councilman Fernando Cabrera, a socially conservative Christian pastor, who says he wants to counter the right wing talking point that all Democrats are socialists. Also running are James Dillon, who failed to make the ballot in a run 2018 run against Rep. Nydia Velázquez, Jose Velazquez, who does not provide any information online, and Badrun Khan, a financial officer and member of Queens Community Board 2.

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), Marlene Cintron (D), Samelys López (D), Ydanis Rodriguez (D), Tomas Ramos (D), Jonathan Ortiz (D), David Franks (D), Frangell Basora (D), Chivona Renee Newsome (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 one of the few open seats in the state. A dozen Democrats are jumping in the race, including a handful of prominent, current and former liberal elected officials: Assemblyman Michael Blake, who has a national profile as a vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and current New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, both of whom live outside the district in Manhattan, and New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres, who’s dominating fundraising so far by bringing nearly $900,000 in the first two quarters, more than the rest of the field combined. But some progressives fear the crowd 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. Other declared candidates include Marlene Cintron, the well-connected president of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation; Samelys López,a leftist activist and project manager at supportive housing operator Breaking Ground who has earned the coveted endorsement of the Democratic Socialists of America; Tomas Ramos, a nonprofit program director; Jonathan Ortiz, a 33-year-old working in financial consulting; and Chivona Newsome, an insurance agent-turned director of operations with Black Lives Matter in New York; David Franks and Frangell Basora, running as Democrats and Patrick Delices, declared as a Republican. State Sen. Gustavo Rivera signed up to run before dropping his bid in July, as did Eric Stevenson, a former Democratic Bronx assemblyman who served time in prison on bribery charges, but is now running for his old Assembly seat instead. 

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), Andom Ghebreghiorgis (D), Jamaal Bowman (D), Samuel Ravelo (D), Chris Fink (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 principal, 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. Other Democratic primary opponents to Engel are Sammy Ravelo, a Gulf War veteran and retired NYPD lieutenant, and Chris Fink, a tax attorney and self-proclaimed municipal power expert. A New Rochelle progressive, Kenny Belvin, filed to run for the seat but has since dropped out.

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: Mondaire Jones (D), Luz Awilda Moreno-Casanova (D), David Buchwald (D), David Carlucci (D), Jo-Anna Rodriguez-Wheeler (D), David Katz (D), Allison Fine (D), Asha Castleberry Hernandez (D), Evelyn Farkas (D), Adam Schleifer (D), Josh Eisen (R)

Rep. Nita Lowey, a congresswoman since 1989 and current chairwoman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, announced in October she wouldn’t be running for re-election, making this seat one of the hottest – and biggest – races in the state. At the top of the contenders list are the two Davids: state Sen. David Carlucci, a moderate Democrat who will face criticism for his role as a member of the former breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, and Assemblyman David Buchwald, a self-proclaimed progressive who led the charge to write a state law to access President Donald Trump’s tax returns. Running to their left seems to be Mondaire Jones, the black, gay, Harvard Law grad and first-time candidate who said Lowey didn’t fight hard enough. Other candidates include Jo-Anna Rodriguez-Wheeler, a stay-at-home mom and volunteer on Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, David Katz, a debt-recovery attorney, and Allison Fine, a leadership consultant and founder of the Network of Elected Women. Recent additions to the race, putting the count of Democratic contenders at 10, include Evelyn Farkas, a former national security analyst and MSNBC contributor Adam Schleifer, a prosecutor in the nationally covered Varsity Blues case and son of biotech billionaire Leonard Schleifer, and Asha Castleberry Hernandez, a national security expert, educator and veteran. Democrat Lucy Moreno Casanova, a nonprofit project coordinator from Yonkers who lost her June bid for county Legislature filed to run, but appears to have suspended her campaign. Same for Republican Jarred Buchanan, a New York City police officer who briefly ran for Congress in NY-18 last cycle. One Republican is running in the safe blue district: Josh Eisen, a small business investor with a Ph.D in religion who claims to have a pro-union “progressive agenda” despite his party enrollment. Former Westchester county executive and 2014 gubernatorial candidate, Rob Astorino, a Republican, is also rumored to be eyeing a run.

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. As the New York GOP’s former city finance chairwoman, she’s unsurprisingly bringing in the bucks, having raised nearly $500,000 in about six months. A newcomer to the district, 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), Ola Hawatmeh (R), Anthony German (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. The lineup so far: Ola Hawatmeh, a 42-year-old fashion designer and CEO, Anthony German, a former New York National Guard general, and Mike Roth, a far-right Trump supporter who has declared himself the “King of Ulster (County)” and supports upstate secession. In addition, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro has planned to meet with New York State GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy to discuss a potential congressional run in the district. 

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), Michael Robert Seney (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. But she’s at a serious financial disadvantage, having raised just $59,000, according to her most recent FEC filing. Also in the race is a Republican Michael Seney, a Rensselaer County sheriff's deputy who hasn’t provided much information about his candidacy. 

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 Wilson12%, 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. Now the race has gone national, after Stefanik made national headlines for her ardent defenses of Trump during the impeachment inquiry. Cobb got $1 million in donations in just three days in November, from donors looking to stick it to Trump. Stefanik supporters fired back, adding a quarter million to her already huge haul. The race is looking to stay one-on-one. 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), Claudia Tenney (R), 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,and with Tenney having announced her candidacy in late September, the upcoming election is likely to be a competitive race once again. In the previous election, Brindisi’s politically moderate positions earned him an endorsement from former Republican Reps. Richard Hanna and Sherwood Boehlert. Brindisi 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 consideringTenney’s relatively late announcement, the Republican field is crowded with several other contenders, including: George Phillips, Franklin Walton and Stephen Cornwell. 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. Cornwell, the Broome County district attorney, decided not to run for re-election for his own seat and go for Congress instead, officially joining the race this summer.

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. Hoping to stop him is Tracy Mitrano, who is taking another swing at Reed after getting within single digits in 2018 in the solidly red district. Mitrano is picking up endorsements from local party leaders and the National Women’s Political Caucus, but will still be facing a primary fight with moderate Scott Noren, who ran as a write-in candidate for U.S. Senate in 2018. Noren has raised a modest $10,500 so far in comparison to Mitrano’s $244,000.

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, however, at the moment he stands opposed to the impeachment inquiry against the president. 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 Brighton Town Board member Robin Wiltchallenging 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 and so far Wilt has only raised $4,662, according to the FEC. No Republicans have announced, which may be part of a trend of Rochester and its suburbs trending further blue, as evidenced by Republican County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo’s loss in November to Democrat Adam Bello.

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), Emin Egriu (D) 

Veteran Rep. Brian Higgins has never faced a serious electoral challenge in his eight terms representing the safe blue, Buffalo-centered seat. That could change this year, since the Justice Democrats, a nationwide progressive PAC that helped elect Ocasio-Cortez in 2018, began actively recruiting a challenger this summer. Nobody has publicly announced a run with its support yet, but Higgins will have at least one primary challenger. Emin “Eddie” Egriu, a construction contractor has filed to run, but so far he has not filed any campaign contributions with the FEC. Egriu previously ran for Congress in 2010 and 2014, but failed to make the ballot each time.

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: Christopher Jacobs (R),Robert Ortt (R), Beth Parlato (R), Nate McMurray (D), Duane James Whitmer (L), Frank Charles Smierciak (R), Melodie Baker (D)

The race for New York’s Congressional District 27 has been completely shaken up following the resignation of former Republican Rep. Chris Collins on Oct. 1, after pleading guilty to charges of insider trading. Up until his resignation, Collins was set on running, maintaining his innocence and raising campaign funds in the process. The assumption now is that Cuomo will choose April 28, 2020, the date of the primary for the presidential election, as the same date for the special election, which will determine who will hold the vacant seat until the general election on Nov. 3. With no primary scheduled ahead of the special election, candidates will be chosen by the state committee members who make up the district. The presumed Republican frontrunner at this point is state Sen. Chris Jacobs, who is positioning himself as a reliable conservative, indicating his support for Republican priorities and the president’s agenda. Another state senator, Robert Ortt, is also vying for the district’s open seat. The Army National Guard veteran is calling himself a “battle-tested patriot” and is advocating for strong border security and improved mental health services. Rounding out the field are local lawyer and Fox News commentator Beth Parlato, who says that she is looking to represent conservative women, and newcomer Frank Smierciak, a 28-year-old who says that “socialism is tyranny” and that he plans to fight the “onslaught of leftist propaganda.” Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, a Collins loyalist, is expected to announce his candidacy in the near future, and Assemblyman Steve Hawley has thrown his name in the mix as a safe, compromise candidate for the divided party. But despite being a deeply red district, in which Trump won with 60 percent of the vote, Democratic Grand Island Supervisor Nate McMurray is looking to make another run, after nearly beating the scandal-scarred Collins in the 2018 general. He isn’t guaranteed to be the Democrat’s candidate though. Melodie Baker, a professional consultant and education activist also launched a campaign to vye for the party’s nomination. Also in the race is Libertarian Duane James Whitmer, an accountant.

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