Metro Weekly

Mondaire Jones to Run for Congress Again

The former U.S. Representative, an out gay man, has announced he will again run for Congress, challenging Republican Dan Lawler.

Mondaire Jones – Photo: Laura Brett

Former U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) has announced his intention to challenge Republican incumbent Congressman Dan Lawler in a Hudson Valley-area seat, one of the key races likely to determine control of the closely-divided U.S. House of Representatives.

Jones was elected to Congress in 2020, serving as the representative for New York’s 17th Congressional District for one term. His victory made him and fellow New Yorker Ritchie Torres the first out gay Black men ever elected to Congress. 

Jones ultimately sought re-election to Congress in an open Manhattan- and Brooklyn-based seat after a court-ordered redistricting map threatened to pit him against fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in the primary for what amounted to a highly contested “swing” seat in the general election.

Thanks to the coattails of Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin, as well as a general backlash against New York Democrats over the issues of COVID-19 lockdowns and rising crime, Lawler narrowly defeated Maloney in the general election.

Jones, meanwhile, placed third in a multi-candidate field for the newly drawn 10th Congressional District in the Democratic primary, losing to U.S. Rep. Dan Goldman. 

In an announcement video released Wednesday, Jones emphasized his roots in Rockland County, including his working-class background.

“Most people in Washington didn’t grow up like me,” he says in the video. “They have no idea what it’s like to struggle. We’ve got to get Washington back on the side of working people. I know we can do better. For me, this is personal.”

The ad also includes testimonials from supporters of Jones, who praise him for voting for funding for law enforcement and infrastructure projects, as well as his push for stronger gun restrictions.

While Jones tended to be on the more progressive side of the aisle during his term in Congress, the ad appears to preemptively cut off potential Republican attempts to portray him as weak on crime or overly extreme in his beliefs.

But while the ad mentions Jones’s commitment to fighting against Republicans seeking to “overthrow our democracy, and take away the freedom to get an abortion,” the candidate also takes shots at his own party and the status quo in Washington.

He argues that Democrats must side more with working people and cites his opposition to corporate campaign cash. He points to his sponsorship of legislation to restrict members of Congress and their staffers from using insider information related to the stock market to boost their personal financial standing. 

A lawyer by trade, the 36-year-old has served as a CNN commentator since leaving Congress. He is likely to face a contested Democratic field. Liz Whitmer Gereghty, a small business founder and the sister of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, is running, as is former Bedford Council Member MaryAnn Carr.

Additionally, Maloney, who lost to Lawler last year by just over 1,800 votes, has not ruled out a rematch, according to the Washington Post.

In a statement Wednesday, the National Republican Congressional Committee predicted that the competitive primary in the 17th District would leave the eventual nominee “bruised and broke,” thereby aiding Lawler — who, unlike some of his fellow New York Republicans, has sought to cultivate a moderate image in office — in his re-election bid.

NRCC spokeswoman Savannah Viar also sought to cast Jones as too liberal for the Hudson Valley district. She criticized Jones for seeking re-election elsewhere, claiming his actions left his constituents in Rockland and Westchester counties “in a lurch,” according to the Post.

The LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, which previously endorsed Jones’s past bids for office, gladly re-endorsed him following his announcement. 

The organization has previously noted that there would have to be 21 more LGBTQ people elected to Congress in order to achieve parity for LGBTQ people, relative to the percentage of the electorate they comprise.

“LGBTQ+ Victory Fund is proud to stand with Mondaire once again and support his historic campaign,” Annise Parker, the president and CEO of LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, said in a statement. “With growing anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and racism across our country, including within the halls of Congress, Mondaire’s election is a powerful symbol of hope for our community.

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