New York City Suburbs Turn Out Big for Mondaire Jones

Mondaire Jones voting
Mondaire Jones votes on election day in New York on June 23.
Twitter/ @MondaireJones

Mondaires Jones, an out gay candidate for Congress in Northern Westchester and Rockland County, jumped out to a significant lead on election night and appears poised to be on the fast-track for the Democratic nomination in the 17th District.

Jones, who is aiming to become the first out gay Black member of Congress, is leading with 42.66 percent of the vote, more than double that of second-place candidate Adam P. Schleifer, a former assistant US attorney who grabbed 19.58 percent of the vote. Former Independent Democratic Conference member David Carlucci registered 12.39 percent, while ex-Department of Defense official Evelyn Farkas got 8.64 percent and Assemblymember David Buchwald mustered just 5.27 percent.

The total numbers could take more than a week to be finalized due to New York State rules banning absentee ballots from being counted until eight days after the election. This year’s race likely features a significant share of mail-in votes due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Jones’ lead seems likely to prove too big for his opponents to catch him.

Jones entered the campaign armed with an array of experience spanning local and federal roles, working in the Obama administration’s Department of Justice and the Westchester County Law Department, while also founding a non-profit organization.

Jones received the backing of multiple LGBTQ organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign and the LGBTQ Victory Fund, as well as an impressive slate of well-known lawmakers like Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, in addition to  Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the nearby 14th Congressional District in the Bronx and Queens.

Furthermore, Jones landed support from queer lawmakers, such as Congressmembers David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin.

The Hudson Valley Stonewall Democrats, however, instead opted to endorse Buchwald, whose performance in the race indicates that he failed to attract much support at all in the district.

While Jones is closing in on a spot in the history books, a similar situation is playing out in the nearby 15th Congressional District, where out gay Councilmember Ritchie Torres is vying to become the first out gay Afro-Latinx member of Congress and the first queer person ever in the New York City congressional delegation.

Jones is running as a progressive candidate supporting Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and a reduction in military spending, among other key causes. His campaign page also expresses his support for queer issues such as the Equality Act and improving access to PrEP.

The winner of this race will go on to face Republican nominee in the general election competition to replace retiring Congressmember Nita Lowey, who has served in the House of Representatives since 1989. In the Republican primary for this race, Maureen McArdle Schulman appears to have trounced her primary opponent, 66.35 percent to 17.97 percent.

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