NY candidates poised to become first Black gay men in Congress after primary vote

Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres are running for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives

Mondaire Jones, left, and Torres Ritchie, are poised to become the nation’s first Black gay men elected to Congress after Tuesday’s primary vote. (Photo: Mondaire for Congress/Ritchie Torres/Twitter)

Two New York men are poised to become the first openly gay Black men in Congress.

Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres are running for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives from New York’s 17th and 15th districts, respectively.

Both Jones and Torres are leading in their races as of press time, according to the New York Times election tracker.

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Torres, a two-time city councilman, is seeking to replace the incumbent, Jose Serrano. The 30-year-old congressional veteran is not seeking reelection.

The race has garnered national attention due to one of the challengers, Ruben Diaz Sr., who is a Pentecostal minister who has a history of homophobia and transphobia. Diaz has previously said that New York’s city council is “controlled by the homosexual community.” Diaz is also a supporter of President Donald Trump.

Diaz is currently in third place, leaving Torres poised to head off to Washington representing the deeply Democratic South Bronx district.

“The 800-pound gorilla is Rubén Díaz Sr., the most prominent homophobe in New York City politics,” Torres told The Advocate. “There’s a real risk that a Trump Republican could represent the most Democratic district in America.”

In the 17th district, Jones is leading his competitors as well. The 17th district represents Rockland County, which includes parts of Westchester County in New York’s suburbs. The district’s previous representative, Nita Lowey, has retired.

Jones is a double Ivy League graduate. He graduated from Stanford and Harvard Law School. He formerly worked for the Obama administration in the Department of Justice. Most recently, he was an attorney for Westchester County’s law department.

In an interview with The Advocate, Jones has said that he gained a passion for helping others due to growing up with a single mother who worked three jobs. He supports Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, a $15 minimum wage, and sweeping criminal justice reform.

“I will fight tooth and nail for those things Democrats say they believe in,” he said.

Both men are highly-qualified Democrats who support Joe Biden. “I have tremendous respect for Vice President Biden,” Jones said, “I think he needs encouragement. I plan to be that encouragement.”