DCCC makes nice with Mondaire Jones in 2024

After being pushed out of the district by the former chair of the national Democratic campaign apparatus, Mondaire Jones now has their institutional backing as he tries to unseat Rep. Mike Lawler.

Former Rep. Mondaire Jones is trying to unseat GOP Rep. Mike Lawler in New York's 17th Congressional District.

Former Rep. Mondaire Jones is trying to unseat GOP Rep. Mike Lawler in New York's 17th Congressional District.

Former Rep. Mondaire Jones may not have been the pick of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the past, but this year, he’s in the group’s first round of candidates in its so-called Red to Blue program. It’s a sign that the party views him as a top-tier candidate capable of flipping a Republican seat blue. 

Every election cycle, the DCCC selects candidates it views as having viable paths forward to win seats currently held by Republicans, or to keep a competitive open seat Democratic, for its Red to Blue program. Selection indicates that the party will invest time and energy into the race, in addition to serving as an indication of the perceived strength of the campaign. 

Jones, who represented the Hudson Valley in Congress for one term before losing his seat to redistricting in 2022, is part of the first round of candidates for 2024 as Democrats attempt to win back control of the House. The DCCC cited Jones’ fundraising and support within the 17th Congressional District currently held by freshman GOP Rep. Mike Lawler. “Mondaire Jones was an integral part of our historic work last Congress to grow the middle class and protect our freedoms,” said DCCC Chair Rep. Suzan DelBene in a statement. “He is in a strong position to flip New York’s 17th Congressional District after Mike Lawler has repeatedly turned a blind eye to Republican extremism even when it hurts Lower Hudson Valley families.”

Jones welcomed the support of the DCCC, seeing it as a reflection of the strength of his campaign. “It's also a recognition of the existential importance of flipping the seat that Biden won by 10 points,” Jones told City & State. “It is a district that, candidly, should never have been lost, and one that we have to take back.” Jones is referencing the loss of former Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in 2022 to Lawler. Redistricting placed Maloney and Jones into the same district, and Maloney – then head of the DCCC – decided to run for reelection there, despite the majority of his constituents ending up in the 18th Congressional District. Jones opted not to run against a fellow incumbent. He instead ran for the new 10th Congressional District in New York City in a crowded Democratic primary that he lost to Dan Goldman.

Even with the early and explicit DCCC support, Jones maintained that he has never been Washington’s choice. “We saw that when I ran in 2020, and we certainly saw it during the last cycle of redistricting in New York state,” Jones said. He first won a version of the seat in 2020 after competing in a competitive open Democratic primary during which he ran an outsider campaign. And he said the backing of the DCCC, while welcome, won’t be what wins him the race. “The only people I have ever needed are the people of the lower Hudson Valley,” Jones said. He said that his decision to run resulted in clearing the primary field and the support he’s now receiving from the DCCC. “The DCCC did not recruit me to run for this seat, I’m not a Washington guy,” Jones said. “I’m a Rockland County guy.”

Along with Jones, 16 other candidates around the country are part of the DCCC’s first round of Red to Blue candidates, including Tom Suozzi on Long Island and fellow Hudson Valley candidate Josh Riley. Suozzi is running for the open 3rd Congressional District seat, which has a special election coming up on Feb. 13, and is expected to run again in the fall. Riley is challenging freshman Republican Rep. Marc Molinaro in the 19th Congressional District. Democrats in New York have said they are targeting five seats to flip this year to help win back the House.