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Hey, Rockland: Don’t sleep on Tuesday’s Democratic primary election

This race, right in our backyard, is an example of “how intensely the conflict in the Middle East has come to divide Democratic politics this election year,” according to The New York Times.

The race for New York’s 17th Congressional District, which includes Rockland County and is currently represented by Republican Mike Lawler, is worth watching (and, ehem, participating in on Tuesday) even though it’s only just primary season, and primaries are so often a snore.

It was already shaping up to be a competitive race, with Democrat Mondaire Jones, a former Congressman, likely to face off in November against Lawler, a Republican who in recent months endorsed Donald Trump for president and has been campaigning alongside GOP House Speaker Mike Johnson.

Jones substantially outraised Lawler during the first three months of 2024 — the last reportable fundraising period — and is well-known in the district because of his prior service in the House.

But things took a turn for him in recent weeks.

Jones lost support from some influential left-leaning groups after he endorsed Westchester County Executive George Latimer, a moderate Democrat who in the neighboring 16th District is waging a primary challenge to unseat Rep. Jamaal Bowman, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

After redistricting, Jones ran unsuccessfully in New York City rather than challenge Bowman in the 16th District, which includes part of the North Bronx and the Southern half of Westchester.

But Jones said “he could not sit by” while his former ally Bowman, “positioned himself as a leading critic of Israel.” He cited “pain and anxiety” being sown among Jewish New Yorkers that had ripped apart “our community and our civil rights coalition,” according to an article in The New York Times.

As a result of Jones backing Latimer, The Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC earlier this month rescinded it’s endorsement of Jones, according to NBC.com.

The Working Families Party of New York still lists Jones as one of its candidates but withdrew financial and organizational support the same day, saying he had “strayed from the values” that led the organization to endorse him in 2020.

“His decision to back George Latimer, who uses racist dog whistles, rejects core parts of [President] Biden’s economic agenda, and shares donors with Mondaire’s own MAGA extremist opponent, runs counter to our values as a party,” NYWFP’s co-directors said in a statement published in news reports.

The Lawler campaign has been capitalizing on the rift — sending mailers to voters about Jones’ Latimer endorsement, according to LoHud’s reporting.

A so-called “mystery” candidate, Anthony Frascone, now has the WFP’s backing for the seat and will also be on the ballot Tuesday.

This race, right in our backyard, is an example of “how intensely the conflict in the Middle East has come to divide Democratic politics this election year,” according to The New York Times.

Add to that the fact that the Lawler race is among the New York contests that could decide the balance of power in the US House, and all our nation’s political turmoil seems extremely local.

The only other race on ballot is for New York State Senate. Former state Sen. Elijah Reichlin-Melnick, running on both Democrat and WFP lines, and WFP candidate Barbara J. Francis, are vying to replace Republican Bill Weber.

You can fill in your address at this link to get a sample ballot, and find your polling place here.

Happy voting!




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