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DCCC chairman faces progressive primary challenge after bullying incumbent out of his district

Salon logo Salon 5/24/2022 Andrea Germanos

Sean Patrick Maloney © Provided by Salon Sean Patrick Maloney

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., speaks during the House Democrats news conference in the Capitol on Tuesday, February 8, 2022. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Progressive New York state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi on Tuesday formally announced a primary challenge to U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, whose recent decision to run in a safer district and effectively boot out a progressive incumbent sparked Democratic ire.

"The Democratic Party should be led by fearless champions—not selfish, corporate politicians," Biaggi tweeted Tuesday. "I'm launching my campaign to take on Sean Patrick Maloney."

The announcement from Biaggi followed the release of newly drawn maps and Maloney's controversial decision to run in the state's 17th Congressional District rather than the 18th, which he currently represents.

The 17th is currently represented by Rep. Mondaire Jones, who has subsequently announced his intention to run in the newly drawn 10th district, not the 16th, which is represented by another Black progressive Democrat, Rep. Jamaal Bowman.

In an interview with The New York Times published Monday in which Biaggi called Maloney "a selfish corporate Democrat," she said, "What hurt the party was having the head of the campaign arm not stay in his district, not maximize the number of seats New York can have to hold the majority."

As The Intercept reported Saturday:

Underneath the district shuffling and refuge seeking is a dire warning for Democrats: Maloney is the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. His entire job is to make sure that Democrats hold their narrow House majority or else the Biden legislative agenda will be completely dead. When the new lines were released, Maloney's district became one that Joe Biden had carried by 8 percentage points. Jumping into Jones's district gave him just an extra 2-point advantage. The DCCC chair signaling nervousness about his own district is less than confidence inspiring. [...]

Maloney's move may be the most brazenly selfish district hop in American political history. That's not said lightly, given that Maloney is operating in an industry—politics—that is populated almost exclusively by some of the most craven, attention-seeking people in our society.

Biaggi has previously bested a more conservative Democrat; in 2018, as a first-time candidate, she defeated state Sen. Jeffrey Klein of the GOP-aligned Independent Democratic Conference despite being massively outspent.

With her new bid to represent New York's 17th in the U.S. House, she says on her campaign website that she's running "to protect and defend our democracy, to halt the climate crisis, to grow our supply of affordable housing, and to transform our government and economy to serve us all."

"New Yorkers need a new generation of strong, fearless, and relentless leaders in Washington," Biaggi adds. "And that's exactly what they can expect from me."

The primary election is set for Aug. 23.

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