Q&A With Rep. Mondaire Jones: NY-10 Democratic Candidate Wants To Build Progressive Coalitions

by | Jun 27, 2022 | Politics

NEW YORK ― Soon after winning a crowded Democratic primary in New York City’s northern suburbs in 2020, Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) rocketed to national prominence. Cruising to general-election victory in New York’s heavily Democratic 17th Congressional District, Jones made history as one of Congress’s first two openly gay Black men. He became the freshman representative to House Democratic leadership, a deputy whip for the Congressional Progressive Caucus and an outspoken voice on the Democratic Party’s left flank.AdvertisementJones, a former corporate lawyer raised by a single mother, also distinguished himself as a prolific fundraiser, founding a political action committee with which to support other candidates.But in May, a court-ordered redistricting threatened to upend Jones’ promising career. His home was drawn into progressive Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s district to the South, and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), the head of House Democrats’ campaign arm, announced plans to run for Jones’ seat without consulting him.Following a round of public finger-pointing, Jones opted to run in New York’s entirely new ― and unoccupied ― 10th Congressional District rather than take on Maloney or Bowman. The predominantly liberal seat comprises lower Manhattan and a cluster of contiguous neighborhoods in brownstone Brooklyn, including Carroll Gardens, where Jones moved earlier this month. AdvertisementThe district’s Aug. 23 Democratic primary has already elicited some 15 contenders, among them former New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, two New York State Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou and New York City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera.HuffPost is running an interview series with the 10th District candidates. Check out our previous interviews with Yuh-Line Niou, Bill de Blasio, and Carlina Rivera.As a newcomer to the district, Jones faces charges of carpet-bagging and opportunism. But he also enjoys major advantages: the backing of high-ranking Democrats, recurring guest spots on MSNBC and a massive war chest that has enabled him to beat rivals to the TV airwaves.The morning after a late June night out with New York City Councilmen Chi Ossé and Eric Bottcher at Club Lambda in East Williamsburg, Jones sat down with HuffPost over coffee at a bagel spot in Carroll Gardens. HuffPost asked Jones how he explains moving to a new district to run, what he thinks has gone wrong in President Joe Biden’s first two years and how he approaches progressive lawmaking.AdvertisementThis interview has been edited for clarity and length.“As progressivism comes under assault, we as a progressive movement still have not reached the level of sophistication required to make the durable gains that we want to see and that the American people broadly support.”- Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.)When you were running in New York’s 17th Congressional District, you talked a lot about your roots in Rockland County. Having moved to New York’s 10th recently, you cannot make the same argument. How do you justify moving here to run?There was no candidate in that race who had been serving in Congress and had already been a champion in a progressive way, and in a way that actually delivered results for the communities that comprise the district. That is a key difference between New York’s 17th Congressional District back in 2020 and New York’s 10th Congressional District today in 2022. My fights to end gun violence in this country, to build a humane immigration policy and to lower the cost of living for working families while stopping the climate crisis are not confined by the boundaries of one or even multiple congressional districts. The work that I’m doing has already been in great service to the people here in lower Manhattan and in Brooklyn. I was the guy at the table negotiating passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the House version of the Build Back Better legislation would not have passed without my work. (Of course, I did that with some other colleagues who were at the table that day.) AdvertisementAs billions of dollars from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act come to New York Sta …

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