New York ‘Center of Gravity’ in 2024 Campaign For House Control
- Six `Biden-Republican’ districts helped flip control
- Democratic super PAC plans to spend $45 million
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If New York Democrats had won in House districts that preferred Joe Biden for president, they’d still control Congress. Instead, Republicans run the House.
Now it’s up to the GOP to show that wasn’t a fluke.
“New York will be much more squarely a battlefield for the House in 2024 than it was in 2022,” said David Wasserman, the US House editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report with Amy Walter.
“It will be the center of gravity” in 2024, said Steve Israel, a former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair who represented New York for 16 years.
Many variables will affect the congressional majority, of course, including the 2024 presidential election and likely re-redistricting in Republican-dominated Ohio and North Carolina.
Still, the electoral math is striking: five more Democratic victories would have kept the House in Democratic hands. And in New York, Republicans were victorious in six districts won by Biden — three on Long Island, two in the Hudson Valley, and one in Syracuse.
Those midterm voters doubled down for the GOP by also choosing challenger Lee Zeldin (R) over Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), according to data compiled by Bloomberg Government.
New York election data crunched by BGOV’s Greg Giroux
Hochul was elected by 6 percentage points, a severe underperformance compared with the 23-point edge of both Biden in 2020 and then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) in 2018. Poor Democratic turnout — Hochul won about 500,000 fewer votes than Cuomo as the total statewide vote fell to 5.9 million from 6.1 million — and Zeldin’s attacks on crime policies appear to have combined to create a favorable political environment for Republican candidates outside New York City.
“New York remains critical in our plan to strengthen the Republican majority in 2024,” Dan Conston, the president of the Congressional Leadership Fund, the leading House Republican super political action committee, said in an e-mail.
“Many of us won seats that were in Democratic hands for many years,” Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-N.Y.) said at a press conference on Capitol Hill. “People wanted change, and the change that they wanted to see was through people like us.”
By “people like us,” he meant most of his fellow swing-district freshmen — minus Rep. George Santos. The press conference was convened to promote proposals (H. Res. 201, H.R. 1391) in response to revelations about Santos, who’s also the subject of an ethics investigation. The other New York freshmen who won Biden districts — Reps. Nick LaLota, Mike Lawler, Marc Molinaro, and Brandon Williams — have joined D’Esposito in saying Santos should resign.
“We’re not going to let George Santos get in the way of us making the change that the people wanted for us to deliver,” said D’Esposito, whose southwestern Nassau County district on Long Island abuts Santos’s district and voted for Biden by 14.5 percentage points.
New York’s all-but-Santos cohort of newcomers is raising campaign money together through a joint fundraising committee called New York Majority Makers, an effort initiated just before the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee bought billboards linking Santos to the other five New York Republicans from districts Biden carried.
The ads focus on campaign money given before Santos’s campaign lies and exaggerations came to light.
“We will be a big target in 2024,” LaLota, who represents part of Suffolk County on Long Island, wrote on Twitter. “We will be ready.”
House Majority PAC, the top super PAC for House Democrats, has said it plans to spend $45 million in New York in the 2024 election — more than three times the $13 million it spent in the state in the 2022 election.
“National Democrats are already raising record-breaking amounts of money to be invested in New York,” Israel said. “The field programs have already started, the candidates are already being recruited.”
Republicans in swing seats should separate themselves enough from party leaders to win independent voters while focusing on the unique needs of their districts, said ex-Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), a former National Republican Congressional Committee chairman.
The GOP freshmen will be able to show an accomplishment if they can “bring back anything in the appropriations process,” Davis said.
Lawler, who unseated then-DCCC Chair Sean Patrick Maloney in a Biden-favoring district north of New York City, moved quickly to establish himself as open to bipartisanship.
He and Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) are partners on measures to increase the state and local tax deduction popular in high-tax states like New York (H.R. 339, H.R. 680).
Democrats, meanwhile, are characterizing the 2022 results as an aberration that can be reversed in a higher-turnout presidential election year, when the newcomers will have voting records to defend.
“There were just some unique circumstances in blue states like New York that are unlikely going to replicate again in 2024,” said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), the vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus.
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Seemeen Hashem in Washington, DC and Emily Wilkins in Washington also contributed to this story.
To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at email@example.com
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