ITHACA, N.Y.—The much-ballyhooed red wave of the 2022 midterm elections never quite came to pass—except, arguably, in New York, usually thought to be a reliable Democratic stronghold.
But Election Day saw Lee Zeldin pose a true threat to Democrat incumbent Governor Kathy Hochul, who prevailed by just 4.5 points, and several Congressional races thought to be toss-ups or likely Democratic turned into Republican victories. One of those was in New York’s 19th Congressional District, which holds Tompkins County, where Republican Marc Molinaro beat Democrat Josh Riley despite the latter leading in the sparse polling dedicated to the race.
While Democrats did not face the shellacking in November that was sometimes predicted, blame has still been flying around New York. The failures of Democrats in New York state races played a large part in preventing the party from retaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Still reeling from that Election Day surprise, a political action committee (PAC) aligned with Congressional Democrats called the House Majority PAC announced it would be pouring $45 million into New York Congressional races. Their goal is to flip five House of Representatives seats to Democrats, which would give them control of the House again. The PAC, in an announcement, stated that 18 districts throughout the country flipped from voting for President Biden in 2020 to voting for Republicans in the 2022 midterms. Six of those districts are in New York.
House Majority PAC Communications Director CJ Warnke confirmed to The Ithaca Voice that NY-19 is one of the targeted districts. He would not comment on how much of the $45 million would be allocated to NY-19.
“While $45 million would be a record investment on the House ballot for one state, New York is an incredibly expensive state in which to communicate,” read the PAC’s announcement. “Because it is not a Presidential or Senate battleground, New York lacks top of the ticket investment to drive the Democratic message and turn out Democratic voters. House Majority PAC will be the largest investor in New York Democratic campaigns in 2024, and we will flip these New York districts blue and take back the House.”
According to the announcement, the spending would mostly be dedicated to billboards, digital communications, direct mailers, grassroots organizing, message development and research, television ads and voter registration.
Molinaro’s team did not have much of a reaction, at least outwardly, to the news of the precedent-setting funding. But they did add an extra comment, saying that Molinaro intends to “protect Social Security and Medicare” amid talk from Congressional Republicans that those programs could be cut.
“Congressman Molinaro is two months into his term and focused on delivering results for the people he was just elected to serve,” wrote Dan Kranz, Molinaro’s campaign spokesperson. “There will be plenty of time to talk politics.”