Longtime New York Rep. Nita Lowey announced Thursday she won’t seek reelection next year, paving way for a competitive primary in her heavily Democratic district.
Lowey, who serves as the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee and was first elected to Congress in 1989, said she will continue “working as hard as ever — with the same optimism and energy — through the end of this term.”
“It is my deep honor and privilege to serve my community and my country, and I will always be grateful to the people who have entrusted me to represent them,” the 82-year-old congresswoman said in a statement.
The only candidate who has already announced a bid for Lowey’s district — which spans parts of Queens, the Bronx, Westchester and Rockland counties — is Mondaire Jones, a progressive lawyer and activist who served in the Justice Department during the Obama administration.
Jones, who’s vying to become the first openly gay African American member of Congress, rapidly started fundraising off of Lowey’s retirement announcement.
“I want to thank Congresswoman Lowey for her years of extraordinary, inspiring service to the district,” Jones tweeted along with a link to his fundraising portal. “I’m looking forward to making my case to every voter in Westchester and Rockland Counties on my plan to bring bold, progressive leadership to Washington.”
News of Lowey’s retirement will likely set wheels into motion for a more centrist candidate to launch a 2020 bid as well.
The 16-term lawmaker’s district is overwhelmingly blue, setting up ideal circumstances for a high-stakes primary next year.
Lowey, a top ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, hasn’t faced a viable Democratic challenger in decades. She won the 2018 midterms with 88% of the vote.
She leaves behind a historic legacy in Congress that includes being the first woman tapped to lead the powerful House appropriations panel.
In her retirement statement, Lowey touted her role in advancing legislation benefiting U.S. interests at home and overseas.
“In difficult times, including after September 11th and Superstorm Sandy, I have fought hard in Washington for federal assistance to recover and rebuild,” she said, adding she also spearheaded efforts that brought “record funding for women’s health and basic education — especially for girls — around the world.”
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