SHRUB OAK, N.Y. — Lower than three months before the November midterm elections, the person tasked with protecting the imperiled Democratic House majority was contemplating a more immediate challenge: securing his own political survival in a primary contest this week.
“How am I doing on the vote?” Representative Sean Patrick Maloney of Recent York asked a voter as he worked a barbecue here last Wednesday afternoon, dousing a hot dog in mustard and relish and commiserating with older attendees about impatiently awaiting the birth of grandchildren.
“I see your industrial every 10 seconds,” the voter told him.
Recent York’s tumultuous primary season, which attracts to an in depth on Tuesday, has no shortage of hard-fought, high-drama contests. But due to Mr. Maloney’s standing because the chair of the House Democratic campaign arm — and given the forged of outstanding politicians who’ve gotten involved within the race — perhaps no Recent York primary is of greater national consequence than the battle for the newly redrawn seventeenth District, which incorporates parts of Westchester County and the Hudson Valley.
By every standard metric — fund-raising, television presence, available polling, endorsements and the assessments of several local elected officials — Mr. Maloney heads into Primary Day with a robust advantage. But Recent Yorkers are unaccustomed to voting in August, and low-turnout elections might be especially unpredictable.
On the bottom, it is obvious that a contested race shaped by ideological, generational and stylistic tensions is underway. The winner is anticipated to face a competitive general election challenge from emboldened Republicans this fall.
“Maloney could be more of my selection simply because I’m a fan of Bill’s,” said Tim Duch, 71, referencing the previous president whose Chappaqua house is in the brand new district (Hillary Clinton, who helped lead Ms. Biaggi’s wedding ceremony, has stayed on the sidelines). Nodding to Mr. Clinton’s comment that Mr. Maloney has won competitive races, he added, “I feel that’s what Bill Clinton was saying, that he’s more winnable.”
Mr. Duch was standing outside a bookstore on Tarrytown’s cafe-lined Primary Street together with his wife, Lee Eiferman, on Wednesday morning when Ms. Biaggi walked by.
“Energy,” Ms. Eiferman, 68, observed after Ms. Biaggi greeted them effusively. Referencing criticism she had heard about Ms. Biaggi concerning her law enforcement stance, Ms. Eiferman added: “She’s for ladies’s issues, and every little thing that she’s getting shish-kebabbed on, I’d say bring it on.”
The contours of the race were set in motion after a messy redistricting process this spring that split Mr. Maloney’s current district in two. As an alternative of running for a reconfigured version of his current seat, Mr. Maloney opted to contest a rather more Democratic-leaning district now represented by a Black Democrat, Mondaire Jones, who aligns with the party’s progressive wing.
Though Mr. Maloney noted that his Cold Spring home was inside the recent lines, it set off a nasty brawl. Furious colleagues forged it as an influence grab, and Mr. Jones ended up packing his bags for Recent York City, where sparse public polling now shows him trailing in a race for an open House seat there.
Mr. Maloney has acknowledged that he could have handled the method higher, and a lot of lawmakers who sharply criticized him on the time now not appear thinking about discussing the topic.
But Mr. Maloney, 56, has long been thought to be an ambitious political operator, and a few hard feelings remain.
National tensions were compounded when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee elevated a far-right candidate in a Republican primary in Michigan, a move that was sharply criticized by many as hypocritical and dangerous. (Mr. Maloney has defended it by noting his party’s improved prospects in the overall election there.)
Ms. Biaggi, 36, has seized on each dynamics to lash Mr. Maloney as a notably self-interested politician who doesn’t grasp the urgency of the moment.
How Times reporters cover politics.
We depend on our journalists to be independent observers. So while Times staff members may vote, they usually are not allowed to endorse or campaign for candidates or political causes. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement or giving money to, or raising money for, any political candidate or election cause.
“He’s a company Democrat with no integrity — let me actually, let me amend that — he’s a selfish corporate Democrat with no integrity,” she said over coffee in Tarrytown, not removed from her recent home in North Castle (she grew up in Westchester but recently moved to the newly configured district). “He’s probably not fascinated with the broader team.”
Voters, she said, desire a fighter whose first instinct within the wake of seismic events just like the overturning of Roe v. Wade will not be to send fund-raising emails — a criticism leveled by other Democrats who thought the party was ill-prepared to reply after the Supreme Court’s decision.
“The one that could make the strongest case is the one who doesn’t embody every little thing that individuals hate about politics,” she said, referring to the candidates’ general election prospects. Each of them speak about how best to interact working people.
Mr. Maloney, for his part, also says that he’s a realistic, “hometown guy” with a record of delivering for the region while managing his D.C.C.C. duties, noting the committee’s fund-raising efforts and the signs of an improving political environment. He attended a significant donor retreat in Napa County, Calif., this weekend to boost money for House Democrats, a D.C.C.C. spokesman confirmed.
In an interview through which he repeatedly muttered about his disdain for Twitter, the congressman dismissed Ms. Biaggi’s criticism as “desperate rhetoric” and the hallmark of a “failing” campaign that he suggested was out of step with what will probably be a politically competitive district in November.
“In case you go searching the country, I feel what’s clear is that the commonsense wing of the Democratic Party that is concentrated on working with people to get things done is on the rise, and the socialist wing is on the decline and it’s about time,” he said.
Asked if he considered Ms. Biaggi a part of the “socialist wing” of the party, Mr. Maloney cited her past criticism of law enforcement as “absolutely outside the mainstream.” Ms. Biaggi doesn’t discover as a democratic socialist and has stopped using the phrase “defund the police.”
A few of her past remarks have change into a problem within the campaign anyway, particularly as outside money has poured in against her from groups including the Police Benevolent Association of the City of Recent York, which endorsed former President Donald J. Trump in 2020.
Inara de Leon, a former TV news producer from Chappaqua, said she was aware of the knocks against Mr. Maloney — but they paled next to her concerns about a few of Ms. Biaggi’s progressive views and her confrontational style. She specifically cited a mailer she had received amplifying a Twitter post Ms. Biaggi wrote in July asking, “When a majority of Congress is past childbearing age, how fierce can we expect their fight to be?”
“I’ve had children, and I do know I’m just as feisty now as I used to be then,” said Ms. de Leon, 71. “I’m undecided I would like so as to add one other person like that to that end of the Democratic Party.”
Ms. Biaggi, a granddaughter of the late congressman Mario Biaggi, has emerged as a state leader of the progressive movement. But after spending months running in a special a part of the region before the redistricting shuffle, she has had limited time to introduce herself to voters.
Even some Democrats who vocally championed her entry into the first have turned their attention elsewhere: A spokeswoman for Representative Jamaal Bowman, Democrat of Recent York, declined to comment on the story and said he was focused on his own race.
Ms. Biaggi said she was “organizing the heck” out of the district. She has not aired ads on television but has pursued an energetic mail program. Each campaigns claim extensive direct voter contact efforts.
As for the tweet Ms. de Leon cited, Ms. Biaggi said that it was referencing “the undeniable fact that the generation above us has been in office for a very long time. They’ve failed on the federal level to guard abortion rights. And when Roe was overturned, they sent fund-raising emails. No urgency.”
On the bottom, there are signs of generational divisions.
“I’m inspired by her energy,” said Emily Marsh, 32, of Cold Spring. “It’s really cool that she’s around my age.”
Mr. Maloney used his time within the district on Wednesday to herald the legislative momentum Democrats at the moment are having fun with. He held an event touting the climate, tax and health care package that President Biden recently signed into law. And on the barbecue, he discussed with older voters how the measure would affect prescription drug costs for seniors on Medicare.
“Seniors is a very powerful thing,” said Billie Desisto, 81, in a Bronx accent. “If Maloney takes care of us, we care for him.”