House Democrats’ campaign arm moves to defend its embattled chief

The House Democrats’ campaign arm is swooping in to defend its chairman, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who is facing a competitive reelection race in New York’s 17th Congressional District after Republicans spent millions to attack him.

With just two weeks left until the midterm elections, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said it would spend $605,000 to prop up Maloney, with a new ad slated to go up Tuesday hitting his Republican opponent Mike Lawler.

The ad’s narrator charges that “Lawler and MAGA extremists spend their time fighting to ban abortion, not tackling crime or inflation, or improving health care.” The ad also tries to link Lawler to an antisemitic 2019 campaign ad from the Rockland County Republican Party, which Lawler has strongly denied. It ends with a photo of Lawler surrounded by images of Republican politicians, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

In response, Bill O’Reilly, a spokesman for Lawler, attacked Maloney as “desperate.”

“Sean Maloney’s selfishness knows no bounds,” O’Reilly said. “Mr. Maloney is now robbing money from his fellow Democrats in a desperate attempt to save his own hide.”

The House Democratic campaign arm decided to jump in after the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is aligned with House GOP leadership, and the National Republican Congressional Committee poured millions into the race. In a sign of the GOP’s momentum, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report recently shifted its rating of the race from “lean Democrat” to “Toss Up.

Democrats have spent over $8.3 million to advertise in the race, while Republicans have spent over $5.6 million, according to AdImpact data. In addition to the $1 million it has already spent on the race, the National Republican Congressional Committee plans to make another $867,000 ad buy against Maloney.

“Republicans are pouring well over $6 million to prop up MAGA Mike Lawler whose campaign couldn’t compete on its own,” said DCCC spokesperson Chris Taylor.

“Since day one, Chairman Maloney has been working tirelessly as a player coach — He’s built a campaign and we’ve built an operation at the DCCC that can support that reality,” Taylor added. “As we have with every decision this cycle, we are making investments that ensure Democrats hold our House Majority.”

Earlier this spring, as Republicans first began telegraphing their plans to target Maloney, the DCCC chairman — who has outraised his opponent and has successfully prevailed in competitive races in the past — told CNN he wasn’t worried about the GOP effort to defeat him and insisted that he doesn’t “see a scenario” where party resources would need to be spent on his own reelection race.

“I don’t see a scenario where that’s going to happen,” said Maloney in April.

But since then, Maloney’s district was reconfigured in redistricting, and the political environment has deteriorated for Democrats in the closing stretch of the midterms. Maloney has said he would recuse himself from any spending decisions made by the committee about his own seat.

Republicans, who are giddy over the prospect of toppling the Democratic campaign chief, wasted no time in taking credit for the DCCC’s decision to use precious resources protecting Maloney.

“Frontline Democrats getting cut off can thank Sean Patrick Maloney and his vain attempt to save himself,” said CLF communications director Calvin Moore. “Sean Patrick Maloney’s hubris is the reason why he’s in a tough race to begin with and now it’s the reason Democrats will lose additional seats in November.”

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