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August 11, 2020


In September, Chelsea Clinton appeared at Barnes & Noble Eastchester with her new book, "START NOW! You Can Make a Difference." Photo Credit: Courtesy/ Chelsea Clinton
Former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino shown in his final days of county service. An associate said Astorino's phone is ringing off the hook from supporters pushing him to run for Congress. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
Mondaire Jones, the only announced candidate for the 17th Congressional District seat when it opens in 2020. Photo Credit: Provided

Who's Up Next? Speculation Swirls About Possible Candidates For Nita Lowey's Congressional Seat

Can next year -- which coincides with President Trump's bid for re-election -- get politically crazier? In Westchester, it's guaranteed.

With the 2020 retirement of U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey after 31 years in Congress comes a blue and red wave of potential candidates. Many of them have either strong local, or national name recognition.

At 82 years old, Lowey also is one of the longest-serving members of Congress and enjoys seniority as chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee.

First, the best-known Democrat: Chelsea Clinton has repeatedly expressed an interest in running for public office. Her parents, Hillary and Bill, live in Chappaqua. Chelsea's name was floated as a possible Lowey successor as early as November 2016. Lowey also happens to be a close friend and supporter of the Cliintons. (This week, Hillary warned Trump: "Don't tempt me" to run for president again in 2020.)

On the Democratic side, local favorites include Westchester County Executive George Latimer, Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner, White Plains Mayor Tom Roach and several state legislators.

Thursday night, Catherine Cioffi, Latimer's communications director, released this statement: "George is very happy as CE and will not be running for this seat."

On the Republican side are former County Executive Rob Astorino of Mount Pleasant and Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont, who has represented Lowey's hometown for many years. 

Someone who has long worked with Astorino said that his phone is ringing off the hook. Despite his defeat to Latimer in 2017, Astorino has more than $800,000 in his campaign account.

"Rob's telephone is exploding," Astorino's associate said. "People are reaching out to him from all over New York and from Washington. He'd clearly be the best Republican candidate to run. Will see."

Another popular Republican from Lowey's congressional district, Ed Day, said he's staying focused on his elective post as Rockland County executive. 

“My sole focus is on the future of Rockland County and what is best for our residents," Day said on Thursday. "I pledged to our citizens that I would not rest until I brought this County back from its near fiscal collapse in 2014 to the Renaissance we are still working towards through strict budgeting and smart compromises. I am committed to Rockland’s future.”

Within minutes of Lowey's Thursday, Oct. 10 announcement that she will retire, an openly gay male from Rockland County reiterated his bid for the 17th Congressional District seat, which also includes Westchester. Mondaire Jones officially became the first to launch his campaign for Lowey's seat in July. 

Jones raised more than $218,000 in the third quarter of 2019, the first fundraising quarter of his campaign. If elected, 32-year-old Mondaire would be the first openly gay black member of Congress in U.S. history. Jones is not accepting any corporate PAC donations, and has signed the no-fossil fuels money pledge.

On Thursday, Jones said, “I thank Congresswoman Nita Lowey for her years of inspiring service to the district. As a trailblazer for women and minorities such as myself, Congresswoman Lowey set an example and has made it easier for people like me to run for office.

"I’m looking forward to making my case to every voter in Westchester and Rockland on my plan to bring bold, progressive leadership to Washington. As a 32-year-old, openly gay, black man who attended the East Ramapo public schools, people like me usually don’t get anywhere near Congress.

"I was raised by a single mother in Rockland County who worked multiple jobs and still needed a Section 8 housing voucher — this work is personal for me. We need bold, progressive leadership in Congress: guaranteed health care, a Green New Deal, student debt forgiveness, and a full restoration of the State and Local Tax Deductions (SALT) for families in Westchester and Rockland," Jones said.

"There’s never been an openly gay, black member of Congress — because people like me don’t usually get anywhere close. But we’re about to make history," Jones said.