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Mondaire Jones, One of the First Black Gay Men in Congress, Seeks to Win Back Seat

Mondaire Jones, One of the First Black Gay Men in Congress, Seeks to Win Back Seat

Mondaire Jones

Redistricting helped cost Jones his seat representing a New York district last year. Now he's running again.

Former U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones, who lost his seat representing a New York congressional district in the Democratic primary last year, is running for Congress again.

Jones announced Wednesday that he’s running in the 17th Congressional District, which covers a suburban area in the Hudson Valley, just north of New York City. He represented the 17th District previously, having been elected in 2020 as one of the first two Black gay men in the U.S. House (Ritchie Torres was the other, elected from a New York City district in 2020 and reelected in 2022).

But court-ordered redistricting reconfigured the 17th District so that last year, Jones would have had to run against another gay congressman, Sean Patrick Maloney, in the Democratic primary. So Jones moved to the 10th District in New York City, where he lost the primary to incumbent Dan Goldman. And in the 17th District, Maloney lost the general election to Republican Eric Lawler by only 1,820 votes.

Now Jones is back in the 17th, and the redrawn district is one of the most heavily Democratic areas currently represented in Congress by a Republican. It includes 73 percent of the residents of the previous 17th District.

In a campaign video, Jones talks about growing up as the son of a single mother in Rockland County, which is within the district, and being fortunate to have people invest in him on a path that led him to Harvard Law School and then to Congress. He then mentions his priorities in Congress.

“People here know me,” he says. “I stand up to Republicans trying to overthrow our democracy and take away the freedom to have an abortion even as I push members of our party to fight harder for working people.” The video goes on to highlight his push for gun control, against corruption in Congress, and for funding for law enforcement and infrastructure repair in his district.

Two other Democrats, Liz Whitmer Gereghty (sister of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer) and MaryAnn Carr, have announced they’re also running for the seat. And Maloney “has not ruled out seeking a rematch” with Lawler, The Washington Post reports.

Jones already has 109 endorsements from local elected officials and party chairs as well as an endorsement from the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, which works to elect out candidates.

“LGBTQ+ Victory Fund is proud to stand with Mondaire once again and support his historic campaign,” Victory Fund President and CEO Annise Parker said in a press release. “In Congress, Mondaire worked to increase opportunity for all New Yorkers, including fighting to protect civil rights, expand access to affordable childcare and tackle climate change. As Co-Chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus, he stood up for our nation’s LGBTQ+ community by championing pro-LGBTQ policies like the Equality Act. We are confident this track record combined with his grassroots support and positive vision for a more equitable America will resonate with voters. 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.”

“Victory Fund was my first national endorsement when I launched my improbable, history-making campaign for Congress in 2019,” Jones said in the release. “As proud as I am of the transformative work we began last term, now we are seeing the worst assault on the LGBTQ+ community in years by far-right Republicans in Congress and the Supreme Court. I’m running for Congress to secure freedom and opportunity for all Americans, regardless of who we love.”

The Democratic Party needs to win five House seats currently held by Republicans to gain back control of the chamber, and party leaders view New York’s 17th as one of their best opportunities, the Post notes. Also, it would take the election of 21 more LGBTQ+ candidates to the House for the community to have equitable representation, according to Victory Fund.

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