U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones will face off against Bill de Blasio for House seat in New York

Jones’ decision to run in the 10th District came after a judge approved a newly redrawn congressional map that altered some Democratically-held seats in the House.

New York Rep. Mondaire Jones will face off against former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in this August’s Democratic primary race to represent the 10th Congressional District. 

Jones, who represents the 17th District in upstate New York, announced Saturday that instead of running for re-election in his current seat, he would seek office in the lower Manhattan district. De Blasio announced on Friday that he would run for Congress in the same district, which encompasses Chinatown, the Financial District and parts of Brooklyn.

New York Rep. Mondaire Jones (left) will square off against former New York City Major Bill de Blasio (right) for a seat in the U.S. Congress. (Photos: Drew Angerer/Getty Images and Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Congressman Jones’ decision came a day after a judge approved a newly redrawn state congressional map that altered some Democratically-held seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

New York’s congressional map — initially redrawn by the Democratic-majority state legislature — had been held up in court after Republicans challenged it on the basis of party gerrymandering. A judge-appointed mapmaker was tasked with redrawing a fairer map with more swing districts that give Republicans a more competitive chance. 

In his announcement, Jones criticized the new map as “the result of partisan politics” and argued that it was drawn by “an out-of-state, Republican court appointee who has shown utter disregard for cultural, social, and economic communities of interest.”

He called it “designed to reduce the number of NY Democrats in Congress.”

Before the map was officially approved by its Friday deadline, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, announced that he would run against Jones in his 17th District rather than seek re-election for his seat in the 18th. 

Maloney’s decision caused shockwaves in Democratic circles and put Jones in a precarious position: Run against a connected U.S. House party leader who would raise significant campaign money, or run against a fellow Black and progressive member, Rep. Jamaal Bowman, in the neighboring 16th District.

The intraparty drama set off by Maloney’s preemptive decision to run against Jones drew the ire of Democrats and social media. Maloney, whose job as DCCC chair is to ensure the election of Democrats in the U.S. House, was criticized for primarying a fellow Democrat.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) speaks during the House Democrats news conference in the Capitol in February. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called on Maloney to step down from chairing the DCCC over the decision, as Politico reported. “Given the resources that he has at his helm,” she said, “it creates a conflict of interest.”

Jones, however, saved Maloney from deciding whether or not to go through with the primary challenge.

In announcing his campaign to run, Jones — the nation’s first openly gay Black member of Congress — nodded to the LGBTQ+ history connected to the 10th district.

“This is the birthplace of the LGBTQ+ rights movement,” he said on Twitter. “Since long before the Stonewall Uprising, queer people of color have sought refuge within its borders.”

The congressman said he was “excited” to make his case for why he should represent the district and “continue [his] work in Congress to save our democracy from the threats of the far right.”

Jones, who last year was named the most active freshman member of Congress, has been in front of various progressive issues, including expanding the Supreme Court and racial justice advocacy for Haitian and other Black migrants

Rep. Mondaire Jones
Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) speaks during a news conference outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., in April 2021, to announce legislation to expand the number of seats for Supreme Court justices. (Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

While Jones will most likely pick up major endorsements from Democratic leadership in the House, he will so far have to go up against New York City’s former mayor, who has national name recognition, and State Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou. 

De Blasio, who left office less than six months ago, notably ran an unsuccessful campaign for U.S. president in 2020. The two-term former mayor was reportedly mulling over a run for New York governor this year but instead chose to run for Congress.

However, polls have consistently shown that de Blasio, despite being elected twice, is not popular among New Yorkers.

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