Who’s threatening House members in 2020

Rep. Lee Zeldin.
Rep. Lee Zeldin.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP/Shutterstock
Rep. Lee Zeldin.

Who’s threatening House members in 2020

After AOC, everybody wants to unseat a representative.
July 7, 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 Democrats, and subsequent losses by a series of state Senate incumbents later in the year only upped the ante. Add in the apparent recent loss of proto-incumbent Melinda Katz in the Queens district attorney’s race, and you’ve got the recipe for what could be an unpredictable primary season. 

Of course, this anti-incumbent, run-for-something spirit may backfire – some members of Congress may see multiple opponents split the anti-establishment vote, letting the incumbent waltz to victory. Other representatives, particularly those far from New York City, will likely face business as usual, winning reelection against little-to-no formal opposition. And of course, there are the Republicans, eager to win back the three seats Democrats flipped in 2018’s blue wave, and setting their sights on even more. But the Dems 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 July 2.

Congressional District 1

Suffolk County

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)

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. Also in the race is cryptocurrency entrepreneur and political neophyte David Gokhshtein, aiming for 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 President Donald 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), 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. 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, among other things, is pledging to treat Queens residents equally in the Long Island-dominated district. Public relations consultant Robert Zimmerman, who ran for Congress once before during the 1980s, reportedly sent a poll around the district asking voters how they feel about himself and Suozzi, but has yet to announce whether he plans to run. 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 still 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 presumptive Queens District Attorney-elect Tiffany Cabán. 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)

Rep. Grace Meng has comfortably won re-election since taking office in 2013. Next year, she’ll have a primary challenge from 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.” 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, 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 expected to run again, although he hasn’t officially announced, 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 first-time candidate, doesn’t have any information online and couldn’t be reached for comment. 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)

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 President Donald Trump. Holly Lynch, a former advertising executive, is running on a platform of reversing inequality. And Amanda Frankel, a 25-year-old cryptocurrency analyst and leftist running an anti-establishment-focused campaign. Peter Daou, a former aide to Hillary Clinton, has also tweeted and said on MSNBC that he is considering primarying Nadler in order to pressure him toward impeachment, but has not yet filed for a run. If more than one anti-establishment challenger stays in the race until election day, 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. 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. 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 entire 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, Miguel Hernandez (R), Ruth Papazian (R), Antoine Tucker (R), Jineea Butler (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 four 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. Mainline House Democrats have also reportedly mulled supporting a primary challenge to Ocasio-Cortez, but nothing has solidified yet, with potential candidates possibly fearing national progressive pushback.

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), Gustavo Rivera (D), Ritchie Torres (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 handful of prominent liberal elected officials like New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres, state Sen. Gustavo Rivera and Assemblyman Michael Blake. Some progressives fear they 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 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. 

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)

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. 

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)

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

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), 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. She hasn’t officially filed for the seat yet, but Farley’s campaign claimed to have raised $200,000 from donors within a week of announcing her candidacy. Farley told City & State in a May interview that her campaign is focussed 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 $443 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)

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. Still, no challenger has publicly come forward yet. 

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: 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. 

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.” 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)

In the midterm, Rep. Anthony Brindisi narrowly defeated the Trump diehard one-term 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. Tenney herself is also reportedly considering a rematch. 

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 touts his role as one of the leaders of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus that has recently taken on infrastructure as a top priority. After losing to Reed in 2018, Tracy Mitrano announced at the beginning of 2019 that she intended to try to knock the five-term congressman out of his seat for a second time in a row. 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.

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)

Incumbent Rep.John Katko is likely to be unopposed in the primary, and has already been endorsed by the Onondaga County Republicans. He recently disagreed with Donald Trump over the president’s controversial comments about accepting opposition research from foriegn entities, signalling a willingness to break with the president to his 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.

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)

Rochester and its suburbs have a new representative for the first time in three decades following the 2018 death of Rep. Louise Slaughter. Rep. Joseph Morelle, a former assemblyman, easily won the traditionally blue seat, and may hold on to it quite easily; no challengers from either party have announced their intentions to run yet. 

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)

As of now, veteran Rep. Brian Higgins is the only candidate in the race. He is also the most recent House Democrat to call for the House Judiciary Committee to open an impeachment investigation into the president. 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 is staying in the race, but Collins’ primary challenger, state Sen. Christopher Jacobs, is positioning himself as a reliable conservative alternative to ensure the district remains in Republican hands.

Despite Jacobs indicating his support for Republican priorities and the president’s agenda, 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 also 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.

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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