Democrat hopes to oust first-term Republican from District 17    

Mondaire Jones served one term in the U.S. House before redistricting in 2022 led him to compete — unsuccessfully — for a seat from New York City instead of the nearby suburbs he had been representing. 

Now the 36-year-old Democrat wants to return to Capitol Hill with a win on Nov. 5 over incumbent Mike Lawler, a Republican who represents the 17th congressional district that includes Philipstown.    

Jones, who grew up in Rockland County in a single-parent family dependent on federal housing aid (and sometimes food stamps), brought his campaign to Philipstown on Sunday (March 3) in a session organized by the local Democratic committee. 

Mondaire Jones, who is challenging Rep. Mike Lawler, visited Philipstown on March 3. He is shown with Putnam County Legislator Nancy Montgomery. Photo by L.S. Armstrong
Mondaire Jones, who is challenging Rep. Mike Lawler, visited Philipstown on March 3. He is shown with Putnam County Legislator Nancy Montgomery. (Photo by L.S. Armstrong)

Addressing about 75 people in Hubbard Lodge at Fahnestock State Park, Jones said he is seeking another House term because Lawler and fellow Republicans, who wrested control from Democrats in 2022, present “an existential threat to freedoms” and waste time on dubious pursuits such as a “sham impeachment inquiry” into President Joe Biden. “I don’t think there’s a problem that Mike Lawler has said he is trying to solve that the Republicans hadn’t created in the first place,” Jones said. 

He faulted Republicans in the House for refusing to ban assault rifles to prevent gun violence; blocking assistance to U.S. allies; torpedoing immigration reform and border control legislation; threatening health care, including legal abortion and in-vitro fertilization (IVF); and wrecking the federal budget-setting process. 

“We have to take the gavel away from them,” he argued. “Lawler and the extreme MAGA Republicans can barely keep the lights on in Washington.”  

(While hardly castigating his party, Lawler has criticized some GOP factions for foot-dragging on budget matters and said at a December town hall that he would prefer to have neither Biden nor Donald Trump on the ballot. “I don’t think either of them are able to do the job, frankly, at this point,” he said.)    

Jones asserted that when he was in office, from January 2021 to January 2023, “we actually did things to improve people’s lives. We rescued the economy from the pandemic,” instituted major infrastructure upgrades, adopted clean-energy and other environmental initiatives, and passed a law to protect same-sex marriages. “We Democrats did that.” 

He had barely arrived in Congress when then-President Trump “and two-thirds of my Republican colleagues in the House were trying to overturn the election” as Trump followers attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Jones said.  

“Democracy is where your vote matters,” he said. As another Biden-Trump election looms, he advised Trump opponents to talk to fellow citizens in friendly, informal exchanges and “keep emphasizing” that “democracy is in peril in this country. This is about saving democracy.” 

Lawler won the seat in 2022, defeating Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a Philipstown resident campaigning for a sixth term. 

Jones had represented the district that covered parts of Rockland and southern Westchester counties, but, following a 2022 change in boundaries, entered the race for the 10th District in New York City, where he finished third in a 10-person Democratic primary. 

He faces a June 25 primary against MaryAnn Carr, a former Bedford town supervisor who reported having raised $15,716 by Dec. 31, compared to $2.14 million for Jones. Lawler said he had collected $3.32 million.

In his remarks on March 3, Jones downplayed the primary. “We’re going to skip over that,” he said. “We’re just going to go straight to November.”

After earning his undergraduate degree from Stanford and a law degree from Harvard, Jones worked in private practice, in the Justice Department during the Obama administration, and in the Westchester County Attorney’s Office, where, according to his campaign biography, “he defended correctional officers and took guns away from dangerous people.” 

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Armstrong was the founding news editor of The Current (then known as in 2010 and later a senior correspondent and contributing editor for the paper. She worked earlier in Washington as a White House correspondent and national affairs reporter and assistant news editor for daily international news services. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Areas of expertise: Politics and government

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1 Comment

  1. With the majority of D.C. Republicans (aka minions of what’s his name, or, as President Biden refers to “predecessor”), I plan to vote Democrat down the line, choosing freedom with democracy, not domination by autocracy! Am sending good karma for your success. Do good when you get there, Mr. Mondaire Jones.

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