August 24, 2022
Written by Meaghan Walsh
In a primary so nice, they needed to have it twice, NY will be hosting its second election this year on August 23rd, 2022. The NY judiciary moved Congressional and State Senate primaries from June to August due to concerns related to redistricting. On June 28th, NY hosted its first primary for statewide elections, such as NY Governor, as well as for their state assembly. Tomorrow, New Yorkers will go to the polls once again to decide who will represent them in the House of Representatives as well as in the New York State Senate. This spending analysis will focus on the $30M spent so far on Congressional elections in the state.
Following the 2020 census, NY lost one of its Congressional seats, going from 27 to 26 representatives. After the census results, officials began redrawing Congressional lines for the next election cycle. In a musical-chairs style upheaval, the redistributed electorate forced members to shift where they would be seeking re-election to different districts.
The most expensive Congressional race in the state is a tossup election for NY CD-19 with over $6M spent so far. NY CD-19 is perhaps one of the most interesting elections happening in the state this year, a special general election between Democrat Pat Ryan and Republican Marcus Molinaro to fill the vacancy left by Democrat Antonio Delgado after he was appointed to the Lt. Governor position on May 3rd, 2022. The winner of the special general election will serve until at least January 3rd, 2023 when Delgado’s term was set to end. The special election is notable due to the presence of larger issue groups in the race, as the NRCC spent $1M on Molinaro and performed a coordinated buy with the candidate for $510K to compliment his own campaign’s $231K. The DCCC has backed Ryan, spending $187K in a coordinated buy to compliment his $580K. Vote Vets has also stepped into the race to back Ryan, spending $476K so far. On the Republican side, the Congressional Leadership Fund has spent $420K in the primary to back Molinaro.
The second is a Democratic primary election to serve NY CD-19 after inauguration day. The Republican primary was cancelled for this election, and Marcus Molinaro will advance to the general. A Democratic primary is currently being held between Jamie Cheney (no relation to former Vice President Dick Cheney) and Josh Riley. Riley is leading the two at $428K, whereas Cheney has spent $260K so far. The Democratic group House Majority PAC has reserved $2.5M of airtime towards the general election to support the victorious Democratic candidate, whereas the Republican Congressional Leadership Fund has spent $1.8M to back the conservative victor.
Another tight election is NY CD-18, a seat left open after redistricting. Pat Ryan is running in this race as well to serve after January 3rd, 2022. In theory, if he were to win both elections, he would leave NY CD-19 when Delgado’s term was set to end and then immediately assume his seat as the NY CD-18 representative for the next Congressional term. The Republican primary for NY CD-18 was cancelled, advancing Colin Schmitt to the general election in November. The Congressional Leadership Fund has spent $1.4M to support the Republican candidate in the general.
The incumbent for NY CD-18, Sean Patrick Maloney, is running for re-election to NY CD-17. NY CD-17 is currently represented by Mondaire Jones, who is now running for NY CD-10. In NY CD-10, Jones is entering an expensive Democratic primary. Jones has dropped $1.5M so far, compared to his opponent Dan Goldman, who spent nearly $4M. Notably, Goldman is the second highest spender across all NY Congressional races so far this year. NY CD-10 is currently held by Jerry Nadler, however, Nadler is running in NY CD-12. NY CD-12 features many Democratic challengers, with the top 3 spenders being incumbent Carolyn Maloney at $771K, Suraj Patel with $346K, and Jerry Nadler spending $324K so far. The Democracy Protection PAC has also spent $222K in NY CD-12 against Maloney.
Another race to watch is NY CD-01 due to the presence of Crypto funded groups. Crypto Innovation has stepped in to contribute $1.2M so far towards Republican Michelle Bond, and Crypto Freedom placed $283K against her primary opponent Nick LaLota. Protect Our Future has also stepped in to support Democratic candidates in NY CD-03, NY CD-04, and NY CD-22 for a total of $811K overall.
NY CD-03 is another toss up election for the state. The seat is up for grabs after its representative Tom Suozzi declared he would not seek re-election as he declared candidacy in the NY Governor race. On June 28th, 2022 Suozzi lost the Democratic primary to incumbent Governor Kathy Hochul. The Republican primary election for this district was cancelled, leaving George Devolder-Santos to advance to the general election. On the Democratic side, the top spenders in the primary are Joshua Lafazan with $579K followed by Robert Zimmerman with $381K. The Democratic advertiser Protect Our Future has also spent $409K in ads to support Lafazan ahead of the August primary.
The final competitive election is for a Republican seat in NY CD-22 currently held by Claudia Tenney. Tenney is now running in NY CD-24. Republican candidate Steve Wells leads in candidate spending with $332K in the NY CD-22 primary so far. On the Democratic side, Francis Conole has spent $234K, and the organization Protect Our Future has also stepped in to contribute $249K in ads to support Conole. Here, House Majority PAC has spent $1.3M towards the general to the Congressional Leadership fund $588K in the primary to support Steve Wells.
Looking at NY congressional races more generally, we can see that the aforementioned tossup races as well as the elections to watch are some of the most expensive this cycle. The NY CD-19 race to hold the seat next cycle has the highest spending so far with $6.22M, followed by NY CD-10 at $5.69M, leaving the NY CD-19 Special election to round out the top 3 with $3.49M. The markets with the highest spending also track with the most competitive districts. New York City, being an expensive market and home to NY CD-01, NY CD-03, NY CD-10, NY CD-12, and NY CD-18, has the highest spending so far at $17.18M.
Next are Syracuse at $4.2M, Albany-Schenectady-Troy at $4.12M, and Buffalo with $2.05M. NY CD-19 is home to the Albany-Schenectady-Troy, Burlington-Plattsburg, Syracuse, Utica, and Watertown markets. NY CD-22 includes the Elmira, Rochester, and Syracuse markets. Buffalo hosts NY CD-23, NY CD-24, and NY CD-26. Although these are all solidly held seats for their respective parties, due to redistricting as well as other factors, we have seen a notable amount of spending in these districts—especially in NY CD-23, which is having its own special election to fill the vacancy left by Tom Reed. However, most spending for NY CD-23 so far has been for the primary rather than the special election.
Overall, Democrats are outspending Republicans for these seats. Democrats have spent $21M so far in congressional races as opposed to the Republican $15M. This activity is partly attributed to the cancellation of some Republican primaries as well as the presence of issue groups in the state. In fact, the Congressional Leadership Fund and the House Majority PAC are within the top 3 overall spenders in these races. The Congressional Leadership Fund has spent the most overall at $4.2M, whereas the House Majority PAC rounds out the top 3 with $3.83M.
Looking back at previous NY primary spending in congressional races, 2022 has seen the second most spending overall at $20.7M to date with ads placed. The most expensive year for House races was the 2020 primary season with $22.2M dropped across multiple districts. This spending included the NY CD-14 seat currently held by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a race for the then vacant seat left by Nita Lowely’s retirement in NY CD-17, and the race for NY CD-01 where the incumbent Lee Zeldin is currently the Republican nominee for NY Governor in 2022.
Overall, we can see the effects of redistricting firsthand in NY as these races heat up in time for the August 23rd primary. With a little over $30M spent so far on congressional races in the state, the results of the primary election are much anticipated for residents of the Empire State. AdImpact will continue to keep a close eye on these races in anticipation for the primary election later this month.