Congressional Districts the New York GOP Is Aiming to Flip Red

Congressional Districts the New York GOP Is Aiming to Flip Red

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The GOP watch list includes the districts of Rep. Pat Ryan (D-18) and Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-16).

While all 26 Congressional Districts (CDs) in New York are up for grabs in November’s election, GOP party leaders are eyeing at least two, currently held by Democrats, that could potentially flip red.

The seats are occupied by Democrat Reps. Pat Ryan in District 18 and Jamaal Bowman in District 16.

“The first thing you do is look at the makeup of the district, and then you look at the qualitative nature of candidate recruitment,” Jason Weingartner, executive director of the New York GOP, told The Epoch Times.

For now, Mr. Ryan’s District 18 encompasses all of Orange County, some of Dutchess and Ulster Counties, as well as the cities of Newburgh, Beacon, Kingston, and Poughkeepsie.

However, the boundaries could change once the bipartisan Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) completes its court-ordered redistricting.

After hearing oral arguments on Nov. 15, 2023, the State of New York Court of Appeals decided 4–3 last month that voters should not be forced to rely on CDs drawn by a special master appointed by Steuben County Judge Patrick McAllister in the matter of Harkenrider v. Hochul.

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The deadline for the IRC to submit a compliant map is Feb. 28.

“What we try to do at the state party level is start off with our targets, do the work we need to do in those targets, and then we also have enough flexibility with our resources that if we need to shift targets, we do,” Mr. Weingartner said.

What makes District 18 a GOP darling is that Mr. Ryan only narrowly defeated his Republican opponent, Colin Schmitt, in the November 2022 elections.

Mr. Ryan, who garnered 50.6 percent of the vote compared to Mr. Schmitt’s 49.3 percent, did not respond to requests for comment.

“It’s one of those districts that may look like it’s Democrat on the surface but it’s a moderate Democrat district, and residents there don’t subscribe to ultra-liberal, ultra-radical agendas,” Vince Casale, a New York political consultant, told The Epoch Times.

Mr. Ryan, the incumbent, must first defeat Democrat challenger Alexander Saulino in the June 25 party primary before progressing to the general election where he will face one of two Republican candidates.

So far, Lovelynn Gwinn and Alison Esposito have declared their candidacy in the GOP primary. And with $1.69 million in cash on hand, Mr. Ryan appears to have the funds to mount a defense, according to FEC data.

Ms. Esposito, who gained statewide name recognition running as 2022 GOP gubernatorial nominee Lee Zeldin’s lieutenant governor, garnered 46.85 percent of the vote compared to Antonio Delgado, New York state’s current lieutenant governor, who won with 53.2 percent of the vote.

“It was really smart to put her in that district,” said Leticia Remauro, former campaign manager for Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.). “The talking points are a little different in the congressional [race] than they were in the gubernatorial race, but the problems remain the same. Alison [Esposito] has momentum.”

District 16

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) speaks at a news conference calling for a ceasefire in Gaza outside the U.S. Capitol building in Washington on Nov. 13, 2023. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) speaks at a news conference calling for a ceasefire in Gaza outside the U.S. Capitol building in Washington on Nov. 13, 2023. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Although Rep. Bowman defeated his Republican opponent Miriam Levitt Flisser in 2022 with 133,567 votes, according to New York State Board of Elections data, the New York GOP identified District 16 as a potential target after Westchester County Executive George Latimer, a Democrat, announced last month that he would campaign against Mr. Bowman in June’s party primary.

Other Democrat challengers in District 16, which includes southern Westchester and parts of the northern Bronx, are Michael Gerald and Marty Dolan.

“Jamaal Bowman is in a situation where he’s running in a primary against a well-known sitting county executive who is definitely a more moderate Democrat,” Mr. Casale said. “There may be an opportunity for a three-way race, or at least a fractured Democrat party where Republicans have a chance.”

At this time, Chris Wright is the only declared Republican running against Mr. Bowman, who agreed to pay $1,000 for one misdemeanor count of improperly triggering a fire alarm in September 2023 during a time when Congress was on-site voting in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Bowman did not respond to requests for comment.

FEC fundraising data indicates that Mr. Bowman is leading all of his opponents, both Democrat and Republican, with $181,681 in cash on hand.

GOP in New York

New York Republicans are cautiously optimistic about flipping District 16 and 18 after gaining Districts 3, 4, 17 and 19 in the 2022 elections.

Rep. Anthony D’Esposito won the 4th Congressional District seat in Nassau County, Mike Lawler represents the Hudson Valley’s 17th District, Marc Molinaro was elected to the 19th District, and George Santos represented the 3rd Congressional District until he was expelled last month.

“Most of the seats we picked up in New York state in 2022 were not Republican-leading districts,” Mr. Weingartner added. “We just had candidates who outperformed their opponents.”

Mike Zumbluskas is a Republican candidate who campaigned in the 12th Congressional District in 2022 against incumbent Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).

Republican candidate Michael Zumbluskas at Union Square, N.Y., on Nov. 3, 2022. (Lily Yu/ The Epoch Times)
Republican candidate Michael Zumbluskas at Union Square, N.Y., on Nov. 3, 2022. (Lily Yu/ The Epoch Times)

Although he announced his plan to run for Congress again in November, Mr. Zumbluskas has yet to select a district due to pending redistricting.

“I can flip anything that includes Coney Island’s Russian and Yugoslavian areas, and depending on how the district is shaped in Queens, I might be able to flip College Point, Whitestone, and other places where there are more houses,” Mr. Zumbluskas told The Epoch Times.

“I might actually be able to flip even the Harlem District, believe it or not.”

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