NEW YORK — Suburban New York Democrats want the Clinton machine back in Congress.
Top officials in the Westchester County Democratic Party were pitching Chelsea Clinton Wednesday on launching a 2020 bid for Rep. Nita Lowey’s seat in light of the longtime congresswoman’s retirement announcement, according to a party source familiar with the matter.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door deliberations, cautioned that Clinton hasn’t personally expressed interest, but said local party leaders were reaching out to her within hours of Lowey, 82, announcing she won’t run for reelection next year.
“If you’re a Clinton and you need a hook, this is a good one,” the source told the New York Daily News, noting that Lowey’s 17th congressional district includes Chappaqua, the ritzy Westchester suburb where Chelsea Clinton’s prominent parents live.
Reginald Lafayette, the county party’s chairman, did not immediately return a request for comment and neither did a spokesman for the Clinton family.
Lowey, who serves as the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee and was first elected to Congress in 1989, unexpectedly announced Wednesday afternoon that she will step down next year.
“Thank you to the people of my district for the opportunity to serve,” the 16-term congresswoman said in a statement. “I will continue working as hard as ever — with the same optimism and energy — through the end of this term in Congress.”
Clinton, 39, has long been rumored to be considering a career in public service.
Her mother, Hillary Clinton, served as a U.S. senator for New York for eight years before becoming secretary of state in the Obama administration. Her father, Bill Clinton, was the 42nd president of the U.S.
Three candidates have already announced Democratic bids for Lowey’s district, which spans parts of Queens, the Bronx, Westchester and Rockland counties.
The congressional hopeful who has created the most buzz so far is Mondaire Jones, a progressive lawyer and activist who served in the Justice Department during the Obama administration.
Vying to become the first openly gay African American member of Congress, Jones rapidly started fundraising after 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.”
Luz Awilda Moreno Casanova, a nonprofit project coordinator from Yonkers, and Lola Osoria, a Bronx high school teacher, have also announced bids for Lowey’s district.
News of Lowey’s retirement will likely set wheels into motion for a more centrist candidate to launch a 2020 bid as well, and Clinton would be a clear favorite, should she decide to run.
Lowey’s district is overwhelmingly blue, setting up ideal circumstances for a high-stakes primary next year.
A top ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Lowey 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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