Oversight chief locked in tight primary
- By Lia Russell
- Jun 24, 2020
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y), the chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, is locked in a tight primary race that is too close to call after Election Day.
Maloney leads by fewer than 700 votes after the Election Day vote count in New York's 12th District, which includes parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, out of more than 40,000 votes cast. Thousands of absentee ballots remain to be counted. The final results won't be known until July 1 at the earliest, because of a quirk in New York law that requires the tally of absentee votes to take place eight days after an election.
Maloney's campaign indicated they expected the candidate's lead to expand with the absentee vote count.
"This campaign was an opportunity not to just highlight my record of accomplishment and vision for a fairer future, but to talk about the opportunities ahead to advance police and criminal justice reform, to expand assistance to the millions impacted by COVID-19, and to hold President Trump accountable in what we are working to ensure are the final months of his disastrous presidency," Maloney said in a statement.
Maloney's rival, an attorney and professor at New York University, Suraj Patel, who ran to the left of the incumbent, also expects to win on the absentee vote count. Patel previously challenged Maloney in the 2018 primary.
"We are confident in our path to victory after a very strong performance on Election Day, which traditionally favors establishment voters," Patel said.
A primary loss for Maloney would mean a shakeup on the Oversight Committee in the next Congress, assuming Democrats hold the chamber.
Maloney won the race to replace the late Elijah Cummings in Nov. 2019, beating rival Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) 133-86 in a vote of the Democratic Caucus to become the first woman to chair the committee. If Maloney loses, it is likely that Connolly, the chairman of the Government Operations Subcommittee, would be a strong candidate for the chair.
Other senior members of the committee include Reps. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) and Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.). A cadre of newer left-leaning members also serve on the committee, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Minn.)
Maloney was first elected to Congress in 1992. She's co-chair of the House Census Caucus, and she introduced the Federal Employee Leave Act to extend 12 weeks of parental leave to all federal employees with one year tenure for the birth, adoption or fostering a new child. That benefit was included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, and is set to take effect on Oct. 1, 2020.
Lia Russell is a former staff writer and associate editor at FCW.