Gretchen Whitmer’s sister, ex-Democrat lawmaker face heated primary for key NY seat that helped GOP take House

Two Democrats – the sister of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and a previously defeated one-term congressman – are facing off in what is expected to be a contentious primary election for a key Republican-held House seat in New York. Former U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones announced last week that he is seeking to win back the suburban New York congressional seat he lost after redistricting juggled the state’s congressional maps last year. Other Democrats seeking to represent New York’s 17th Congressional District, north of New York City, include Liz Whitmer Gereghty, a Katonah-Lewisboro School Board member and sister of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The seat is currently held by Republican Rep. Mike Lawler, who historically defeated former Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., then-chairman of the House Democrats’ campaign arm during the 2022 midterm election that saw Republican candidates pick up several New York seats. “There’s no debate that we’re going to have a contentious primary, but Mondaire Jones won a contentious primary,” Democratic strategist Evan Stavisky, who lives in the district, told The Hill. “The more that this is a referendum on the Republican control over the House, the more that the race gets nationalized, the better it is for whoever wins the primary.”  FORMER DEMOCRATIC REP MONDAIRE JONES LAUNCHES COMEBACK BID FOR CRUCIAL SEAT THAT HELPED GOP TAKE HOUSE The race could be crucial toward the Democrat Party’s 2024 goal of reclaiming control of the House.  Previously elected to represent the 17th District, Jones was among those who lost in the state’s contentious 2022 redistricting process, which put him in the same district as Maloney. Rather than running in the redrawn 17th District, Jones joined a crowded Democratic primary field in the 10th Congressional District in New York City, losing to former federal prosecutor Daniel Goldman, who went on to win the general election.  “Certainly he’s got some explaining to do,” Stavisky, who is not aligned with either candidate, said of Jones. “He talked about New York City being his home when he moved there. So I think he’s got some work cut out for him to explain that to Democrats and eventually to all voters in New York 17.”  Republicans have argued the fight between Jones and Whitmer Gereghty will weaken whoever becomes the Democrat’s candidate.  GRETCHEN WHITMER SEEMS TO HINT AT FUTURE PRESIDENTIAL RUN, DELIGHTING CNN HOSTS: FOCUSED ON MICHIGAN ‘FOR NOW’ “We’re grabbing our popcorn to watch the race to the left between Liz Gereghty and Mondaire Jones that will inevitably leave Democrats’ nominee broken and bruised,” Savannah Viar, spokeswoman for the House GOP’s campaign arm, said in a statement to The Hill.  Jones has received endorsements from more than 100 local leaders and has championed his support of the Inflation Reduction Act, which helped direct $37 million to two dozen community projects. Meanwhile, Whitmer Gereghty has received support from some national and local groups, including the Tri-State Maxed-Out Women’s PAC and EMILY’s List, which touts her as “the best candidate to defeat anti-choice Republican Congressman Mike Lawler.”  Whitmer Gereghty, who announced her candidacy in May, has pitched herself as a 20-year resident, education advocate, former small business owner and a mother of three.  Speaking with The Hill, Jones took a swipe at his opponent, encouraging conversation with local voters and “not some laboratory at some national organization that has no idea what the dynamics are in this district and who may be doing favors for people in Michigan.” Gretchen Whitmer has been floated as a potential Democratic presidential candidate in 2028.  “We need to really kind of reengage with one another. I think that’s where we’re really falling apart,” Whitmer Gereghty told The Hill. “I don’t think it needs to be ‘brutal,’ like some of the articles I’ve seen have characterized it. I think that’s silly and self-defeating,” she added of the primary fight.  In a video announcing his campaign last week, Jones, 36, a Harvard Law School graduate who in 2020 become one of the first two gay Black men elected to Congress, touted his working-class roots. “Most people in Washington didn’t grow up like me,” Jones, who was raised by a single mother, said. “They have no idea what it’s like to struggle.” The Associated Press contributed to this report. 
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