Between Sean Patrick Maloney & Hakeem Jeffries The Democratic Party Is Digging Its Own Grave
Today I warned two top progressives in Congress that it will be catastrophic for Democrats and for the progressive movement if Wall Street shill Hakeen Jeffries becomes Speaker or minority leader. Both shrugged as though it were a foregone conclusion and there is nothing that can be done about it. The progressives aren't going to run anyone. Instead, Mark Pocan, CPC-PAC head, will lead the part of Jeffries' operation to corral progressives and bamboozle them into supporting him... even as he moves aggressively-- if somewhat surreptitiously-- to defeat progressive incumbents Rashida Tlaib (MI), Andy Levin (MI) and Marie Newman (IL).
Same thing happened with the DCCC chair position, which has never gone to a a progressive. And they just keep getting worse and worse. No one ran against corrupt corporate whore Sean Patrick Maloney after Cheri Bustos' miserable and disastrous tenure. The progressives didn't even try. They let Maloney walk right into it with no opposition-- or even a promise of fair play. He's turning out to be an even worse chairman than Bustos was. A hint is that he has the 8th worst voting record of any Democrat in the House. Why does that matter, you ask? He thinks he's great and recruits and supports candidates like himself. That's why it matters.
Yesterday, we saw the New Dem endorsements-- almost identical to the utterly pathetic list of DCCC endorsed candidates. I think there's just one DCCC candidate that isn't also a New Dem candidate. And not one DCCC candidate has been endorsed by the Progressive Caucus... of course. After all, Maloney is just like progressive-hating Hakeem Jeffries, two Wall Streets peas in a pod.
Last week, writing for the American Prospect, Lee Harris wrote that Maloney has built power-- for the Republicans, putting his personal interests ahead of the interests of the DCCC and the Democratic Party (and the country). Harris explained that he "took other members of the New York congressional delegation by surprise when he declared last month that he will leave his district to run in a slightly safer neighboring region. The choice sparked outrage at the top House Democrat charged with defending lawmakers in vulnerable races. As chair of the DCCC, Maloney has access to crucial polling and analysis, and appears to have decided that the move to a district that gives him just a two-point edge is vital for his political survival. Abandoning his former district, primarily in the Hudson Valley, makes it more likely that Republicans will capture the open seat, something Democrats cannot afford if they want to hang on to the House."
But local politicians in Maloney’s region say that although the congressman heads the party’s national electoral strategy, his willingness to sabotage fellow Democrats is familiar. Maloney has long guarded his right flank by supporting Republicans and declining to campaign for Democrats in the district he is now exiting."
That strategy, several disgruntled Democrats said, is representative of a party that has jettisoned issues popular with its base, such as abortion rights and environmental issues, in favor of promoting bipartisanship that may not deliver returns.
“He hasn’t done anything to build the party or the infrastructure behind it,” former Dutchess County Democratic Committee Chairman Joe Ruggiero told the Prospect and New York Focus. “Locally, he’s all about himself.”
Ruggiero speaks from experience. Maloney declined to endorse Ruggiero when he challenged incumbent Marc Molinaro for Dutchess County executive, after Molinaro’s failed bid for New York governor. The NRA-backed Republican’s platform centered on building a new jail complex in Poughkeepsie.
Since winning that race, Molinaro has declared that he is running in New York’s 19th District, which is newly competitive as Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado [andother self-serving New Dem turd] has left it to become lieutenant governor. Several local political organizers said Maloney’s failure to endorse Molinaro’s progressive opponent typified his unwillingness to go to bat for Democrats in his district.
“It’s infuriating because Marc Molinaro is the county exec, he’s slick, but he doesn’t have much power unless people give him power,” said Lisa Jessup, chair of the Democratic Committee in the Hudson Valley city of Beacon.
Maloney bigoted his way into the district he’s bigfooting out of. He originally entered the old 18th after buying a home in Cold Spring, and quickly became a force holding the line against progressives.
Elisa Sumner, then chairwoman of the Dutchess County Democratic Committee, had recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with DCCC chair Steve Israel about strategy for the region, where she and other party leaders were confident that a progressive could win. She pointed to Rep. John Hall, an environmentalist and rock star with the 1970s band Orleans (“Still the One”) who had written music performed by Pete Seeger, criticized the Iraq War, and been a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
If Hall could win in the Hudson Valley, she reasoned, so could another progressive local like Matt Alexander, then mayor of Wappingers Falls. But she learned that Maloney, who had been an aide to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, had President Bill Clinton making robocalls on his behalf.
“We begged him not to run in the district,” Sumner said. “We already had [political] machines up and running, and he just came in and cleared the field.” In response, she added, Maloney “intimated that he wanted to be in this district because it was closer to the New York City media market.”
...When Maloney was elected, several Democrats said, he emphasized bipartisanship at the expense of his own party. He bragged about voting routinely against President Obama, including on implementing the Affordable Care Act. When Donald Trump took office, Maloney was one of 33 House Democrats who voted with Republicans for one of the administration’s few legislative victories, a bank deregulation bill that mostly benefited large regional banks.
In 2014, Maloney backed former state Sen. Bill Larkin of Orange County, an anti-choice, NRA-funded Republican, when Larkin faced a challenge from Newburgh City Councilwoman Gay Lee, a pro-choice Black woman.
The following year, Maloney endorsed Republican Rob Rolison, an ex-cop who also opposed abortion, for mayor of Poughkeepsie. He even went door-to-door with Rolison and Molinaro, the county executive, snubbing Randy Johnson, another Black Democrat in the majority-minority and left-leaning city.
In the next mayoral election, Rolison faced a progressive challenge from Joash Ward, a Black man who grew up in Poughkeepsie public housing, graduated high school as valedictorian at 16 years old, and became an intern in the Obama White House. Maloney again stepped in to endorse Rolison, tipping a close race, which the incumbent ultimately won by just 312 votes.
Johnson, the Poughkeepsie county legislator who lost to Rolison in 2015, noted that Maloney had frequently declined to endorse Black candidates. “He really did a disservice to the Democratic party in the city,” he said.
Maloney has also helped guard against challenges from the left at the statewide level. When actress and activist Cynthia Nixon declared her primary challenge to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Maloney was one of the first elected officials to come out in support of the governor. He cited his own identity as a gay man as giving him credibility to dismiss Nixon’s claim that Cuomo wasn’t a real progressive.
He also played a spoiler in the 2018 attorney general race, harming upstate support for progressive Zephyr Teachout. That helped tip the election to Letitia James, whom Cuomo had endorsed. (Ironically, it would be a report from James on Cuomo’s sexual misconduct allegations that would drive the governor from office.)
When defending his strategy, Maloney has stressed that he sits in a swing district. “If I wasn’t managing the Frontline program, I’d be on the program,” he recently told reporters. Now, he will face a primary challenge from Alessandra Biaggi, a state senator who in 2018 unseated a key architect of New York’s Republican-aligned Independent Democratic Conference. She sees a similar foe in her new target.
“Maloney cares more about short-term wins and holding on to his power than strengthening the Democratic Party,” Biaggi told the Prospect and New York Focus.
In the new 18th District, Maloney would likely have been running against Colin Schmitt, a Trumpian Republican assemblymember who last year gave a speech to galvanize protesters on their way to the January 6th protests of Biden’s inauguration in Washington. Schmitt will instead vie with Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, a graduate of West Point military academy who says he has launched one of the first county-level Green New Deal plans in the country.
If you'd like to help replace Maloney, please consider supporting state Senator Allesandra Biaggi, who, unlike Maloney, at least supports core Democratic values. You can contribute to her campaign here or by clicking on the thermometer just above, dedicated to electing more progressive women to the House. And by the way, while we're at it, who thinks the NY Working Families Party will back Maloney in this race? After all, isn't that exactly what they do?