Republicans are set to make a nine-figure investment in New York congressional races between now and November 2024 in a blockbuster bid to preserve a House majority bolstered by freshman GOP members who won seats in 2022 in districts that voted for President Joe Biden two years prior.
House Republicans’ third-ranking member, Rep. Elise Stefanik, announced the $100 million commitment on Monday. Politico was first to report the investment.
“New York State was THE battleground for House Republicans in 2022,” Stefanik, who represents a district in northern New York declared on Tuesday on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. “I am proud to help lead the team effort to protect and expand our House majority again in 2024!”
Stefanik’s team did not respond to multiple requests from Spectrum News to confirm the fundraising strategy she discussed with Politico, but her campaign sent out an email circulating the article and described it as detailing her “plan and effort to protect and expand the House Majority in New York.”
The 39-year-old, fast-rising GOP star has forged close alliances with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and the wing of the party loyal to former President Donald Trump, who she endorsed days before he officially announced his 2024 candidacy last fall.
The $100 million will be raised by the congressional campaigns themselves, the Republican National Committee, House GOP’s campaign arm, and aligned political action committees.
It comes as Democrats, lead by House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries — Stefanik’s fellow New Yorker and Democrats’ presumptive choice for House speaker if they regain a majority — have launched a major offensive to retake key districts and defend another after a series of missteps during the 2022 cycle.
“I think part of the reason [the GOP is investing so much money] is because they see the effort that we're putting into it. And they know that these Republicans are extremely vulnerable,” said Dora Pekec, a spokesperson for the Jeffries-aligned House Majority PAC.
The PAC announced a $45 million commitment to New York House races in February, with Pekec telling Spectrum News this week that commitment remains in place and that “the path to a Democratic House Majority runs through New York,” calling the state the party's “best bet.”
Pekec said House Majority PAC will mostly be directing their funds to paid media and will “see how things change” over the course of the races to decide if they want to increase their $45 million pledge. Historically, 95% of that money hasn’t been spent until about 10 weeks before the November election, she said, but the committee has already been producing opposition research on their New York Republican targets and sharing it with the media.
As of June 30, the last required campaign finance deadline, the PAC had received $20 million since the beginning of the year, spent $3 million and had over $18 million in the bank.
Jeffries has said he’s closely coordinating with the state’s Democratic party, along with Gov. Kathy Hochul and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, to avoid the losses New York Democrats experienced in 2022 amid a closer-than-expected governor’s race. The hope is, with a better coordinated strategy and an influx of funds, Democratic congressional campaigns will do better in a year where President Joe Biden will be at the top of the ballot.
“Throughout states across the country, there are coordinated campaigns that are highly functional between the state Democratic Party and the local congressional delegation political apparatus,” Jeffries told Spectrum News in July. “It just has never existed in a meaningful way in New York state.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has targeted the districts of six freshman Republicans: Reps. Nick LaLota and Anthony D’Esposito of Long Island, Rep. George Santos of Long Island and Queens, Rep. Mike Lawler of the northern New York City suburbs, and Reps. Marc Molinaro and Brandon Williams further upstate. Democrats plan to invest tens of millions of their own funds into the races in districts that voted for Biden in 2020.
The Hudson Valley district of Rep. Pat Ryan, a freshman Democrat, is being targeted by Republicans and labeled by the DCCC as a competitive seat they hope to defend.
“Elise Stefanik is a MAGA extremist who is leading vulnerable New York Republicans to pledge allegiance to their dangerous, far-right party,” said Ellie Dougherty, a DCCC spokesperson in a statement. “Whether it’s by abandoning campaign promises and backing fervently anti-abortion measures, refusing to sign onto efforts to pass common-sense background check bills, or voting to protect federally-indicted George Santos, Republicans from Long Island, the Hudson Valley and Central New York are hurting their chances with New York voters by consistently caving to extreme GOP House leadership.”
Stefanik’s team told Politico they already directly raised $150,000 for some of the freshman Republicans targeted by Democrats, though not Santos. The scandal-plagued, self-admitted embellisher was hit with 13 federal charges in May, including wire fraud, money laundering and making false statements to Congress. (He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.)
Santos is also under congressional investigation and each of his fellow freshman GOP congressmen from New York have called on him to resign. So far, McCarthy and Stefanik have not followed suit. With a slim -- and, at times, quarrelsome -- majority, House Republican leadership needs every vote they can get.
Ultimately, as money pours in from both sides, the most significant factor in deciding the fate of these races could be the redrawing of congressional maps, which have been in legal flux for over a year now.
In July, a state court ordered the lines redrawn once again — they were drawn three times last year before they were finalized for the midterms — by an independent commission, though the Democratic-controlled legislature would have the final say. Republicans have vowed to challenge the ruling in New York's highest court, the Court of Appeals.
"While many on the political left rail against real and imagined 'threats to democracy,' House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries is attempting to get New York courts to order a redraft of the state’s congressional districts," former New York Rep. John Faso, a Republican, wrote in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal earlier this month. "This would give Democrats an advantage in the 2024 elections and potentially make Mr. Jeffries speaker."