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Despite Reservations, Maloney, Bowman Best Choices for House

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It’s a bit unusual to find a five-term congressman in this part of the country crisscrossing the district in the waning stages of the campaign hoping to win over voters.

But as the 2022 campaign hits its final week, that’s what Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney has been forced to do as he looks to hold off a driven and unrelenting challenge by Republican Assemblyman Mike Lawler in the newly-configured 17th Congressional District.
Optimists might look at Maloney as prudently taking nothing for granted, which may turn out to be true. Or point to the 10-point advantage that President Joe Biden registered in his 2020 victory in the same territory that is being contested by the two candidates and believe the district’s makeup will carry Maloney home.

But for a congressman who had tens of thousands of new voters to familiarize himself with, particularly in the Westchester portion of the district, and in a congressional mid-term where historically the party in power loses seats, Maloney was noticeably absent from the local campaign trail until recently. Call it arrogance, miscalculation or that he was busy doing his job, one sure-fire way to blow an election is failing to connect with ordinary citizens.

Meanwhile, Lawler, elected to the Assembly two years ago, has done an impressive job of presenting himself as the type of Republican that can be trusted in a party that on the national level has gone off the rails too many times in the past six years. He’s stressed issues that undecided or swing voters can easily understand, including the spiraling price of groceries and gas and how residents are less safe in New York since the introduction of bail reform.

Campaign strategy aside, when examining who would be a more effective representative in Washington for the 17th Congressional District, the nod solidly goes to Maloney. He has shown himself to be a pragmatist and interested in finding solutions to the problems of the day, whether it be helping seniors by capping out-of-pocket Medicare and drug costs or providing local police departments with the resources needed to do their job.

He has also supported a major commitment to improving infrastructure and 21st century businesses, including some areas in the Hudson Valley that have seen billions in fresh investments.

For those who believe that a woman has a right to choose what is best for herself along with her family and doctor, Maloney correctly wants to codify Roe in federal law and not depend on the vagaries of a particular election cycle.

Although neither party has provided answers to the vexing problems with illegal immigration over many years, the congressman hopes to prevent people from crossing illegally while still adhering to the nation’s ideals by following its asylum laws.

In a different time, Lawler might be an acceptable alternative to those who are frustrated or struggling in the current economy. That economic pain for many families and seniors on fixed incomes is real and the assemblyman has articulated that well. He also backs red flag laws and universal background checks for gun owners, which seems to be at odds with others in his party elsewhere in the country.

But much of his other views, particularly on crime and New York’s bail reform, are worrisome. No matter how one tries to spin it, crime in Westchester and Putnam counties is down in recent years, including through the pandemic. Even more concerning is his idea to strip states of their federal funding if they are unable to protect their citizens, exactly the wrong step to take if there is a crisis. Invariably, that would strip cities of crucial resources at the wrong time.

While Lawler said he would be against a national abortion ban and believes the issue is a matter for each state to decide, it’s unclear whether he would support something else, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham’s proposal for a federal abortion ban at 15 weeks.

Sometimes change for the sake of change is needed. That is not the case in the 17th Congressional District. Maloney’s 10 years in Congress and prior service in the Clinton administration provides the New York congressional delegation, which has seen its share of turnover in recent elections, with much-needed experience.

16th Congressional District
Unlike Maloney, freshman Rep. Jamaal Bowman, making his first re-election bid next week, has positioned himself solidly with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. While that is not necessarily problematic, he has taken some curious votes such as opposing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, as well as more funding for the Capitol police following the insurrection. In addition, he voted against the Israel Relations Normalization Act.

Perhaps because he’s new he’s trying to stand out with protest votes. But we would hope in a second term, Bowman has a natural maturation process.

He does correctly identify the effects of climate change, particularly in the Sound Shore communities that get ravaged with flooding. Bowman also understands the challenges that people of color face that would be difficult to fully understand unless one has experienced bias.

He is being challenged by Dr. Miriam Levitt Flisser, the former Scarsdale mayor and current medical director for Bronxville schools, who does have some standout qualifications. But too many of her talking points read from the Republican script.

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