Election 2022: Tight race in New York's 17th Congressional District

The battle for New York's 17th Congressional District in the Hudson Valley was considered to be tight. In 2020, President Joe Biden won this district by 10 points. But this year, the congressional race is seen as a toss-up, according to the Cook Political Report

The incumbent in the race is Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who was first elected in 2012 in the 18th Congressional District. But after redistricting earlier this year, Maloney chose to run in the redrawn 17th CD, which includes his home. His challenger is Republican Assemblyman Mike Lawler, who was first elected to the state Legislature in 2020. 

Crime and Bail Reform

Crime is one of the top issues for voters this year and both candidates have a different way of approaching it.

"My strategy is to fund good policing," Maloney said. "I brought millions back for local police departments."

"Cashless bail needs to be repealed," Lawler insisted. "Judges need discretion and we need a dangerousness standard."

When it comes to bail reform, both candidates agree there needs to be changes.

Lawler said he would support federal legislation that would allow victims of crime to sue states with cashless bail laws if the person who attacked them is out on cashless bail. 

"I think there's a lot that can be done at a federal level with legislation to really force New York state's hand," Lawler said. "But at the end of the day what this really comes down to is electing people who are going to push back against the woke progressive agenda."

Maloney said New York's bail laws were flawed from the beginning and state lawmakers should have been more careful when crafting the legislation. But he also said parts of the law should stay. 

"The good part of reform is that you treat rich people and poor people the same," Maloney explained. "We should reject the false choice between public safety and having a system that's fair. We need both."

The Economy

When it comes to the economy and the battle against inflation, Maloney pointed to his record voting for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and said that over the next two years he would work to grow the state's workforce.

"We need to grow our workforce so that we get more people fill in these jobs that right now are empty," Maloney said. "We need to cap prescription drug costs."

Lawler said cutting inflation starts with cutting taxes.

"Up in Rockland County, in Westchester, we pay among the highest property taxes in America," Lawler said. "Sean Maloney has failed to lift the cap on SALT [state and local tax deductions]. He promised to do it."


Maloney has focused his campaign heavily on abortion access and gun control. He said the abortion issue is far from settled in New York if there are changes on the federal level.

"When my opponent says, 'Nothing's changing in New York,' that's a flat-out lie," Maloney said. "If you care at all about reproductive freedom, if you care about marriage equality, or about birth control, or even interracial marriage — they all depend on the same privacy backstop in the Constitution."

Lawler has been clear that he is pro-life but said he would not support a federal bill to ban abortions. He said he also supports exceptions such as rape, incest, and the life of the mother.

"I don't believe in banning it nationwide, it should be dealt with on a state level," Lawler said. "I certainly believe women should have access to birth control. I think they should have access to reproductive health. The issue ultimately is about you know how people feel about abortion."

Election Reforms

Lawler and Maloney both agree that New York has fair elections but when it comes to expanding New York's voting laws both back different reforms.

In 2021, two voting amendments were on the ballot. One would allow anyone to request an absentee ballot to vote. Lawler said he voted for the bill while in the state Legislature.

"I did vote in favor of no-excuse absentee balloting to allow the voters the choice and they rejected it," Lawler explained. 

Maloney was a little more hesitant. 

"I think it had a real important place during the pandemic and I do think there ought to be as many methods of voting as possible," Maloney said. "I want to see the specifics of those proposals."

The other voting reform that was on the ballot, but ultimately failed, would have allowed New Yorkers to register to vote on the same day as the election.

Maloney said he supports it.

"Absolutely," Maloney said. "The biggest problem we have in New York is making sure that the reforms that have made it easier for people to vote are respected by the county boards of elections."

Lawler, on the other hand, said he is against it.

"When you have people trying to register on the same day that the election is, most people just don't think that's fair," Lawler said. 

Final Pitch

With just two weeks to go until the election, Maloney said he is the mainstream choice.

"I think the voters are telling you that they want mainstream leaders like me to stay in office and work on mainstream solutions," Maloney explained. "Whether you're talking about public safety, whether you're talking about our support for Israel, whether you're talking about our fiscal policy, they want things getting done that make sense."

Lawler, in his final pitch to voters, said he can bring back "common sense."

"One-party rule is not working — we need to restore balance and common sense at every level of government," Lawler explained. "Whether you're Republican or Democrat or an independent, it doesn't matter. We all want a few basic things out of life."

Early voting in New York starts on Saturday, Oct. 29.

With FOX 5 NY Staff.