New York Democrats landed their first prominent candidate to retake a competitive Hudson Valley House seat on Tuesday when local school board member Liz Gereghty, who is the sister of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, announced she would challenge freshman Republican Rep. Mike Lawler in the 17th Congressional District.
Gereghty likely won’t have the 2024 primary to herself: Politico reported last month that former Rep. Mondaire Jones is getting ready to launch a comeback bid sometime in the third quarter of the year. The Democrat who lost to Lawler last year, former Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, also hasn’t publicly dismissed the idea, though he seemed unlikely to seek a rematch even before Axios reported last week that Joe Biden intends to nominate him to become ambassador to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Biden carried the current version of this court-drawn constituency 54-44 in 2020, but Democrats learned the hard way last year that this is anything but solidly blue turf. Maloney, who was Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair at the time, infuriated Jones and many local party members when he decided to run here rather than defend the 18th District, a more competitive seat that included the bulk of his current constituents.
Jones decided to avoid a primary by campaigning well to the south in the Brooklyn-based 10th District, but he ended up taking third in the primary to now-Rep. Dan Goldman. Things worked out poorly for Maloney, too, as Lawler edged him out 50.3-49.7 at the same time that Republican Lee Zeldin was beating Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul 52-48 in the 17th, according to Bloomerg's Greg Giroux. (Ironically, Democrat Pat Ryan held the 18th District that Maloney left behind.)
Gereghty, who has lived in the Hudson Valley for over 20 years, kicked off her campaign with a video in which she touts her service on the board of the Katonah-Lewisboro School District, saying, “I’ve seen firsthand how our divisions get in the way of getting things done to the detriment of our children.” The candidate casts herself as a problem-solver going up against an incumbent who aides the GOP leaders “threatening our core rights, our safety, and our economic future.” Gereghty does not mention her sibling, but if Whitmer deploys her status as a celebrity among plugged-in Democrats and her access to a nationwide donor network on her sister's behalf, it could prove to be a considerable boon.