A recent move by the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) raises questions about whether the group values young Black leadership in Congress. Earlier this week, DCCC Chair Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney announced he was going to run for election in the newly proposed 17th Congressional District.
Black voters and Black elected officials matter until they don’t.
What is the DCCC?
The DCCC operates as the re-election committee for the Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives. According to its website, the DCCC is “the only political committee in the country whose principal mission is to support Democratic House candidates every step of the way to fortify and expand our new Democratic Majority.”
Why is DCCC Chair Maloney’s actions a problem?
Jones has previously said the announcement caught him off guard.
“Sean Patrick Maloney did not even give me a heads up before he went on Twitter to make that announcement,” Jones said to the outlet. “And I think that tells you everything you need to know about Sean Patrick Maloney.”
And his chief of staff, Zach Fisch, fired off a couple of angry tweets on Monday with a screenshot of a text exchange purportedly with DCCC Chair Maloney’s chief of staff.
In the text, DCCC Chair Maloney’s staffer seems to confuse Jones with another Black man, Rep. Jamaal Bowman, who represents the 16th Congressional District. According to reports, DCCC Chair Maloney has alleged that he didn’t want to move his family out of the district.
No one wants to uproot their family. But members of Congress do not have to live in a district to represent it. They only have to live in the state.
Progressive strategist and communications consultant Murshed Zaheed said Jones shouldn’t back down from running in his district if DCCC Chair Maloney goes forward with his current plan.
New York Working Families Party Wants DCCC Chair Maloney To Step Aside
New York Working Families Party Director Sochie Nnaemeka called on Maloney to drop out of the race or run in the 18th Congressional District, which he currently represents.
“The voters of the 17th Congressional District chose Rep. Mondaire Jones for a reason.” Nnaemeka said in a statement provided to NewsOne. “He has been an exceptional leader in Congress, serving his constituents with his fierce commitment to voting rights, fixing the Supreme Court to work in the people’s interests, and protecting the climate. He’s earned the right to seek re-election in his home district.”
Nnaemeka doesn’t seem to be arguing that no other candidate should enter the race against Jones. But the head of the DCCC who can run in the district he currently serves should do just that. While the proposed 18th Congressional District isn’t as solidly Democratic as it was previously, Nnaemeka is of the opinion it’s still a very winnable district.
“That’s what makes Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s announcement that he intends to run in that district so troubling—a district which includes Rep. Mondaire Jones’s hometown in Rockland County and is mostly composed of the electorate that Mondaire currently serves,” Nnaemeka continued.
According to Nnaemeka, his actions undermine the leadership of a body that should be expanding Democracy, not trampling on it.
“As head of the DCCC, Rep. Maloney’s role is to help Democrats hold a majority and advance a more representative and equitable democracy, especially in the face of an increasingly authoritarian Republican Party,” she said. “His current approach, however, is neither strategic nor defensible.”
Black Representatives Call Out Gerrymandered Maps
Both Bowman and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Hakeem Jeffries called out the maps for diluting Black political power and representation in the Empire State. Jeffries called the maps “unacceptable, unconscionable & unconstitutional.”
In a statement, Jeffries also mentioned the new map carved up the historic Brooklyn district once served by the late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. If this map were in a southern state, there would be a national outcry.
Bowman also posted a Twitter thread walking through his objections to the new maps. He said the proposed map disregarded testimony about protecting the Black vote in parts of the Bronx and lower Westchester.
Again, Black voters matter outside of the south.
New Maps Shake-up Other Races
New maps have caused a headache for voters and candidates across the country. And DCCC Chair Maloney isn’t the only House member who announced their intent to challenge another incumbent.
The New York special masters map will put Rep. Carolyn Maloney against House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler in much of her current district. New York’s NBC affiliate reported that Nadler also questioned the constitutionality of the maps and dividing “communities of interest” but said if the map became finalized, he looked forward to representing the 12th Congressional District.
In Georgia, Republicans redrew maps to make it difficult for Rep. Lucy McBath to win re-election. Instead of fighting for the seat she flipped in 2018, McBath decided to challenge her colleague Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in the Seventh Congressional District.
But then again, neither woman is in charge of the DCCC with the main job of fighting to protect their colleagues.