The fight for control of Congress: 10 U.S. House races to watch this year in New York

Joseph Spector
New York State Team

ALBANY - At least 10 U.S. House races in New York will play a pivotal role in whether Democrats can retain control in November as Republican eye picking up some seats they have lost in recent years.

Republicans hold just five of the 27 congressional seats in New York, but they will look to keep one of those seats in a special election April 28 — when a western New York district will be up for grabs after the resignation last year of disgraced Rep. Chris Collins, a Republican.

Statewide, the Democratic presidential primary is April 28, and the key House races kick off with a June 23 primary, then the winners will square off in November.

Republican and Democratic leaders said they feel confident going into the election cycle.

State GOP chairman Nick Langworthy recently met with President Donald Trump to discuss the political plan in New York.

New York has some critical House races to watch this year.

"The president is very in-tune with what is going on here in New York," Langworthy said.

"We share a lot of common goals to grow the party and get back some of that ground we lost in 2018. We have a clear mission ahead of us."

State Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs said he is hopeful the top of the Democratic ticket in a presidential year will help the party on down ballot races. 

All 213 state legislative seats are also up for election in New York in November, and Democrats control all state government.

Jacobs suggested if Bernie Sanders were at the top of the ticket, which is increasingly unlikely, it could hurt the party in the suburbs and upstate — which are more moderate area.

"I’m not going to endorse yet," Jacobs said. "All I will say to you is the suburbs and upstate New York tend to see a stronger Democratic vote when you have a nominee at the top of the ticket that they can identify with and get excited about."

More:New York presidential primary 2020: Here’s when you can vote

Here are the key races to watch:

District 1

Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y.., serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

This Suffolk County district on Long Island is deemed "likely Republican" by the Cook Political Report. Trump easily won the district in 2016.

Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican, was first elected to the post in 2014, and he will face the winner of a Democratic primary involving multiple candidates.

They include Perry Gershon, a businessman who ran against Zeldin in 2018; SUNY Stony Brook professor Nancy Goroff; Bridget Fleming, a Suffolk County legislator; and Gregory-John Fischer, a business consultant.

District 2

Rep. Peter King, R-Long Island, addresses a rally on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation  Act. To King's right are Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

This is an open race on Long Island after GOP Rep. Peter King announced he will not seek re-election after first joining Congress in 1993. Trump won the district in 2016.

Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino is the Republican party pick, but faces a potential primary challenge from Assemblyman Michael LiPetri.

The Democratic candidate is expected to be Jackie Gordon, a former Babylon town board member and an Army veteran.

Langworthy said he's trying to avoid a primary for King's seat, which the Cook Report deemed "lean Republican."

"I think primaries are in most cases not really the most useful expenditures we would be making," he said.

District 11

Max Rose takes part in a raffle to determine the order in which new members of Congress will select their offices.

Democrat Max Rose is one of four House freshman up for re-election in November.

In a district mainly on Staten Island, Rose faces a competitive race against Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who ran for mayor in 2017.

In 2018, Rose beat Republican incumbent Dan Donovan. The Cook Report called this year's race a toss up. Trump won the district by 10 percentage points four years ago.

More:Impeachment vote stirs dissension for NY House Democrats in swing districts

District 17

Congresswoman Nita Lowey talks about her career in politics at her office in White Plains Nov. 12, 2018

This district that cuts across Westchester and Rockland counties will have its first competitive race in decades after Rep. Nita Lowey, who first took office in 1989, announced she will retire.

But the competitiveness won't likely be between Democrats and Republicans — it will be which Democrat wins the June 23 primary since Democrats have a huge enrollment advantage.

The Democratic candidates include Adam Schleifer, a former federal prosecutor; Assemblyman David Buchwald; Evelyn Farkas, an ex-deputy assistant secretary of defense; Mondaire Jones, an attorney; Allison Fine, former chairwoman of the national board of NARAL Pro Choice America Foundation; and Sen. David Carlucci.

More:Catherine Borgia drops out of race to succeed longtime Rep. Nita Lowey

District 18

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., questions Gordon Sondland, US Ambassador to the European Union, during a House Intelligence Committee impeachment inquiry hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney is expected to seek another term after first being elected in 2012 in a swing district that stretches through the Hudson Valley.

Trump won the district in 2016, but Maloney was able to win regardless — and won again in 2018 even after he tried unsuccessfully to win an open seat for attorney general that year.

Now he will face Republican Chele Farley, who ran in 2018 against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

More:NY Reps. Elise Stefanik and Sean Patrick Maloney are stark opposites on Trump impeachment

District 19

Democrat Antonio Delgado speaks at a Democratic watch party in Kingston, N.Y., after defeating incumbent Republican John Faso Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.

Rep. Antonio Delgado is another freshman House member seeking a second term in a district that stretches across the Hudson Valley, Catskills and into the Albany area.

Delgado beat Republican incumbent John Faso two years ago, but the seat is one of three the Cook Report called a toss up.

Poughkeepsie attorney Kyle Van De Water is expected to be the Republican challenger in a district that went for Trump by six percentage points in 2016.

District 21

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., questions former White House national security aide Fiona Hill, and David Holmes, a U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, as they testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents.

The North Country district that stretches into the Albany area is currently represented by Republican Elise Stefanik, who has become an increasingly ardent supporter of Trump.

She has received plaudits from the president, but her support has drawn the ire of Democrats and is making the race a competitive one.

Her opponent Tedra Cobb has rallied support from Democrats across the country, even as Trump carried the district by six percentage points in 2016 and Stefanik has been re-elected three times.

More:Upstate NY Rep. Elise Stefanik lauded by Trump for impeachment fight; Draws Democrats' ire

District 22

Claudia Tenney, left, and Anthony Brindisi.

One of the more hotly contested races in 2018 was the loss by GOP incumbent Claudia Tenney to then-state Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi by 4,473 votes in a central New York district.

Now they may be headed to a rematch. Tenney is competing in the Republican primary and has again received Trump’s backing. It is the other race in New York that the Cook Report puts as a toss up.

George Phillips and Franklin Sager are also running for the GOP nomination in the June 23 primary.

More:Rep. Anthony Brindisi fires aide charged with patronizing a 17-year-old prostitute

District 24

Dana Balter and John Katko

Another central New York district that stretches into Wayne County is held by Rep. John Katko, a Republican who was first elected in 2014.

The district is pretty moderate, though, and Hillary Clinton won it in 2016. The Cook Report put it as "likely Republican."

His Democratic opponent will be decided in a primary among Dana Balter, Francis Conole and Roger Misso.

District 27

L-R: Brianna Harrington, Grand Island Supervisor Nate McMurray, Mrs. Marcus Kelly, Senator Tim Kennedy, Senator Chris Jacobs, Marcus Kelly

The western New York district is one of the most heavily Republican ones in the state, but there is some uncertainty after Collins' resignation.

Nate McMurray, who ran against Collins two years ago, is the Democratic candidate, and Chris Jacobs, a state senator, is the Republican nominee. The Conservative candidate is Beth Parlato.

So there will be a special election, then a potential primary in June and then the general election in November.

The 27th district stretches from the Rochester suburbs to the Buffalo suburbs and into rural counties across western New York.

More:Here's when NY special elections will be held to fill U.S. House, state Legislature seats

Joseph Spector is the New York state editor for the USA TODAY Network. He can be reached at JSPECTOR@Gannett.com or followed on Twitter: @GannettAlbany

Includes reporting by Observer-Dispatch staff writer Steve Howe.

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