After a frenzied start to the competition for the soon-to-be-open seat in New York District 17, the candidates each look to stand out from the large field in 2020. The fight for the seat representing Rockland and Westchester counties began rather quickly after Representative Nita Lowey announced in October that she would not be seeking reelection for the spot she’s held for more than three decades. Seizing the opportunity, ten candidates are currently vying for the Democratic nomination in the upcoming June 23 primary, while the Republican opponent is viewed by most political experts as an afterthought in the decidedly blue district.
Mondaire Jones differs from the other candidates in that he directly challenged Lowey for the seat months before she announced her retirement. He told the River Journal, “This campaign has been exhilarating—I’ve met with so many passionate community members and activists throughout this process, and I can’t wait to continue as we begin the new year.”
Calling himself “the true progressive in this race,” Jones mentioned “showing up for the NY-17 community, from advocating for criminal justice reform at a rally in Cortlandt, to speaking about the nation’s climate catastrophe at the Climate Strike in Nyack, to supporting workers’ rights at the 32BJ [a labor union for property service workers] rally in White Plains.” His campaign was also endorsed by local elected officials and the national groups Democracy for America, the Collective PAC, and the Victory Fund.
Assemblyman David Buchwald campaigned across the district while his coalition of supporters grew with nearly 50 endorsements from local public officials, Democratic groups, activists, and labor groups. Additionally, a law proposed by Buchwald banning telemarketers from making unsolicited calls during declared states of emergency was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in December and takes effect immediately, with the intent to improve communications during widespread power outages.
State Senator David Carlucci also saw legislation he’s worked hard on go into effect when Gov. Cuomo passed Dream’s Law, which guarantees continued care for patients with a central venous line after being discharged from the hospital. Carlucci also received major labor endorsements to close out 2019. The first two came from the Rockland County Building and Construction Trades Council (RCBCTC), which is made up of 21 active unions in Rockland County, and IBEW Local Union 363, which represents thousands of members in New York State. Then came the support of Teamsters Local 445. This union represents more than 3,400 members in the Hudson Valley in fields like construction, public employment, freight, health care, law enforcement, and industrial.
Evelyn Farkas, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Obama and a National Security Contributor for NBC/MSNBC, didn’t announce her campaign until well into November, but instantly made waves. Within her first week of fundraising, she drew in over $235,000 in contributions. She also landed endorsements from heavy-hitters such as former Sen. Carl Levin, who was the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Being among the first to alert the country about potential Russian interference in the 2016 election, she poises herself as a particularly strong opponent to Trump and the Republican Party should she be elected to Congress.
Adam Schleifer, son of the CEO of Regeneron, also looks to situate himself as a protector of national law, given his background as a federal prosecutor and a New York consumer-protection regulator.
Meanwhile, former NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation board chairwoman Allison Fine, spread her message of supporting reproductive rights and called for the country to move to a new, green economy to battle the effects of climate change.
Educator and combat veteran Asha Castheberry Hernandez and Westchester Legislator and Majority Leader Catherine Parker both launched their campaigns in December. With others still rumored to announce runs, the role of becoming a frontrunner will look to be even harder in 2020.