County Democratic Committees Plan For A Replacement Candidate

Jun 7, 2018

New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney says he will run in the Democratic primary for state attorney general. This has left county Democratic committees in his 18th District scrambling to line up a prospective congressional candidate, not knowing whether Maloney ultimately will be in the race.

The 18th District includes Orange and Putnam Counties and parts of Dutchess, including the City of Poughkeepsie, and northern Westchester. Brett Broge is chair of the Orange County Democratic Committee.

“The obvious person that people would look to would be, I think, James Skoufis,” Broge says. “But I think he made very clear this morning that at this point in time he’s 100 percent in on the Senate race.”

He refers to Wednesday morning, when Assemblyman James Skoufis tweeted as much. In a statement to WAMC, Skoufis says, “I'm running for State Senate, period. This seat is a critical one for both the Hudson Valley and New York State - that's why we're out there collecting signatures as we speak to get on the ballot.” Skoufis announced in May that he would run for the seat currently held by Republican Bill Larkin, who is retiring. Meantime, Broge tossed out another name.

“There’s certainly various elected throughout our county, I think somebody like Pat Davis, who ran last year and has the biography that I think is certainly appealing to a congressional district like this, with a West Point background, an Army backgroun," Broge says.

Patrick Davis, who ran for Orange County executive last year, says he is humbled his name has come up and spoke with Broge Wednesday.

“There’s still a lot of conversation I have to have with my family and things I’ve got going on with work, and all this,” Davis says. “But, again, the drive to serve is still there, and this is clearly a big decision that we need to, wouldn’t take lightly at all.”

In other words, he will seriously consider whether to consider a potential run. Republican Orange County Legislator James O’Donnell was already running for Maloney’s seat.

“It’s not fair to whoever takes his place and the public to judge whoever it is my record of accomplishment and what I want to do in D.C. versus whoever takes his place,” O’Donnell says. “There’s only like a six-week window for the public to decide. So he’s not doing his own Democratic family any favors.”

Cook Political Report issued new ratings in April for 13 districts including the 18th, changing it from likely Democratic to solid Democratic. Elisa Sumner is chair of the Dutchess County Democratic Committee.

“People have come forward. There’s always people who want to run for higher office, but they would have such a short time frame in which to do it. And I don’t know who’s declaring that a solid Democratic seat.  It went to Trump,” says Sumner. “Politics is a very fickle, it’s very fickle, and I would worry very much about losing that seat, especially with such a short time frame.”

Sumner declined to name names of prospective candidates. Congressman Maloney.

“And I will work my heart out to keep this seat in the blue column, in the hands of somebody who care about the people I represent now,” says Maloney. “And I have spoken to Democratic leadership about that. It has been central to every conversation I’ve had about this race. It is part of the plan, trust me.”

Orange County’s Broge.

“I would assume that the DCCC will want to hold onto the seat and will certainly assist with whatever resources it has and can afford to lend to whoever steps into the race at that point in time,” Broge says.

D-Triple-C is the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. A spokesman says, “Legislator O’Donnell will have to run on a Republican agenda that has inflicted higher taxes and increased premiums on many New York families, and the DCCC is confident that Democrats will continue to hold this important district.”

Sumner, meantime, backs Zephyr Teachout for attorney general. In fact, she nominated her.

“I think that people are rightfully upset and hurt that they work hard for him, and they collected signatures for him, and they support him in the congressional race,” Sumner says. “And the fact that he would leave them in the lurch like that is upsetting to many of his constituents.”

The statewide primaries are September 13, a mere seven weeks before the November midterm elections.