Midterm elections are traditionally bad cycles for an incumbent party, like the Democrats this year, but a tightening in the polls could lead to a close finish for whoever controls Congress come January.
Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion and assistant professor of political science at Marist College, said congressional districts like the 19th in the Hudson Valley and Southern Tier will get a lot of national attention and could be “critical” as each party pushes for control.
On Aug. 23, New Yorkers registered with a political party will head to the polls for the second of two primary elections due to a judicial ruling which threw out district lines for Congress and the state Senate. One of the most competitive primaries in the state will be in the new 17th district, which pits U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney against New York State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi. Miringoff said Maloney, a moderate, has become part of the Democratic establishment, and while he believes Maloney has an edge in the primary, establishment Democrats like Joe Crowley have fallen to progressive challengers like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez before. The area hasn’t been represented by a Republican since the 1980s, so Miringoff said the Democratic primary could choose the eventual winner.
On the Republican side of the aisle, state Assemblyman Mike Lawler is one of five Republicans facing off for the party’s nomination. Miringoff said the name recognition that Lawler has from being an assemblyman could help him in the crowded field.
The races for the 18th and the 19th congressional districts are intertwined for the August and November elections. Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan is looking to fill the remainder of Antonio Delgado’s term in Congress in the 19th, but is seeking a full term in the 18th district. The combination of switching districts and a late primary could lead to confusion for voters, argues Miringoff. The winner of the Democratic primary between Ryan and Moses Mugulusi will face off against state Assemblyman Colin Schmitt in November.
The other candidate in the 19th special election is Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro. Molinaro, the 2018 GOP gubernatorial nominee, is running in the 19th for the special and the November general election. Despite only serving for four months, the winner of the race will have the added effect of incumbency in their November election.
The 19th Congressional District is one of the few remaining competitive House districts left in the country. In an election that could come down to a handful of seats, the 19th Congressional District could determine which party has ultimate control of the House of Representatives. The race to take on Molinaro in November is between two Democrats, Jamie Cheney and Josh Riley.