A potentially cutthroat fight is brewing in the Democratic primary for a seat on the House of Republicans in New York, and liberals have the ultra-progressive members of the “Squad” to blame.
Mondaire Jones, a former congressman, is running for one of the swing seats in New York, the 17th Congressional District. He’s set to face off in the primary against a solid challenger – Liz Whitmer Gereghty, who is the sister of Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Jones has long been an ally of the “Squad” in the House, which is made up of ultra-progressive Representatives such as Ilhan Omar from Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib from Michigan and, most notably, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York.
He served in the House from 2021 to 2023, but redistricting shook things up. The new 17th District in New York included Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, who was at the time serving as the chair of the campaign arm for the House Democrats.
So, Jones ran instead in the 10th District in New York, but lost in the primary to Dan Goldman. Maloney ended up losing the 17th District to Republican Representative Mike Lawler in a tight race, even though President Joe Biden carried that district by 10 points during the 2020 presidential election.
Now, Jones is up for another tough primary fight, this time against a prominent Democrats’ sister.
Gereghty is an advocate for education and currently serves on a school board located in the 17th District. To boost her chances at the primary, she’s getting support from the outside – from the congressional delegation in Michigan, where her sister is governor.
In anticipation of a potentially nasty fight in the primary, Jones’ allies have already started to attack.
Representative Jamaal Brown, another member of the “Squad” who represents a New York district close by, told Politico back in April:
“I didn’t even know (Whitmer’s) sister lived in the district. And I don’t know many people who know her.”
Supporters for Geregthy fired back, saying she’s lived there for more than 20 years.
Jones came to be known as a very progressive member of the House when he served, though that reputation could actually hurt him in the 17th District, which has turned more conservative in recent years thanks to redistricting.
One major issue that could land him in hot water with Democratic voters there is that he supported the “defund the police” movement back in 2020. At the time, he wrote an op-ed for Teen Vogue.
In it, he wrote the U.S. has to “dismantle white supremacy in all aspects of our society, and that means moving funding away from police departments.” He also called to “abolish cash bail,” adding that he supports the Green New Deal and Medicare for All.
While all of these stances garner him a lot of support within the “Squad” and among ultra-progressive Democrats, they might not engender him to the more moderate Democrats who now vote in the newly-drawn 17th District.