New Yorkers elected last month an evenly partisan quartet of congressional freshman to represent them in the 115th Congress. While the new members–two downstate Democrats, another two upstate Republicans–are new to Washington, they’ve long been fixtures of the state’s political landscape.
Here, the New York public policy team lifts the hood and kicks the tires on incoming freshman delegation.
3rd Congressional District – Tom Suozzi (Democrat)
Congressman Tom Suozzi has a long career in public service. First elected to public office as the mayor of the town of Glen Cove in Nassau County where he served for four terms, he was most recently the Nassau County Executive from 2002 to 2009. Credited for bringing Nassau County’s finances back from the bringing of bankruptcy during his two terms in office, Suozzi sought the Democratic nomination for Governor of New York in 2006, ultimately losing to Eliot Spitzer in the primary. Three years later, Suozzi lost his reelection campaign to then Nassau County Legislator Ed Mangano in 2009 by less than 300 votes. In 2013, Suozzi attempted to regain the County Executive office but lost in a rematch to County Executive Mangano. New York’s 3rd Congressional District, previously served by former DCCC Chairman Steve Israel, encompasses the North Shore of Long Island from the northeast edge of Queens in New York City, across northern Nassau County into northwestern portions of Suffolk County on Long Island.
13th Congressional District – Adriano Espaillat (Democrat)
Congressman Adriano Espaillat replaces longtime Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel in the Harlem-based 13th Congressional District and now becomes the first Dominican-American member of Congress. Espaillat has served in the New York State Senate since 2011, and previously served in the State Assembly for 13 years, from 1997 to 2010. Espaillat ran against Congressman Rangel in the 2012 and 2014 Democratic primaries, narrowly losing to Rangel in both primary elections. Demographic shifts over the course of the last two decades in the traditionally African-American neighborhoods of Harlem and Washington Heights – most notably an influx of Hispanic and Latino residents – played a critical role in buoying Congressman Espaillat’s primary challenges. In 2014, Congressman Rangel announced he would retire from Congress at the end of his two-year term, resulting in a Democratic primary battle between Espaillat and long-serving Harlem Assemblyman Keith Wright, along with a handful of less established candidates. Espaillat won the 2016 Democratic primary with 36 percent of the vote. The 13th Congressional District includes all of Harlem and Washington Heights in Manhattan, and a small portion of the Bronx.
19th Congressional District – John Faso (Republican)
Congressman Chris Gibson’s announcement in 2015 to adhere to a self-imposed term limit and not run for reelection in the 19th Congressional District immediately set the stage for a high stakes political battle in the Hudson Valley for the competitive House district. Congressman Gibson, considered one of the most moderate House Republicans and widely popular in the District, would have likely sailed to an easy reelection in 2016. John Faso, a former member of the State Assembly from 1987 to 2002, where he also served as Assembly Minority Leader, was the leading establishment favorite for the Republican nomination from early on. Faso faced off against Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham Law School Professor who, as a Democratic candidate for governor in 2014, had a surprisingly strong showing against incumbent Andrew Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic primary. Congressman Faso handily beat Teachout in the general election, winning by 9 percentage points. Faso, who is a former attorney and lobbyist at Manatt Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, will serve the sprawling 19th Congressional District which spans the Hudson Valley from the Southern Catskills, west to Oneonta and through the outskirts of the Capital District and east to the Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont borders with New York. Congressman Faso is expected to follow closely in outgoing Congressman Gibson’s footsteps as a more moderate member of the Republican House delegation.
22nd Congressional District – Claudia Tenney (Republican)
Congresswoman Claudia Tenney arrives in Washington after a relatively short career in the State Assembly, where she has served since 2011. Tenney replaces outgoing Republican Congressman Richard Hanna, who she ran against unsuccessfully in the Republican primary in 2014. Congressman Hanna announced his retirement just weeks after Congresswoman Tenney’s announcement to run again for the 22nd district in November of 2015. Tenney is expected to bring a decidedly more conservative message to Washington than Congressman Hanna, who was the first House Republican to cross party lines to endorse Hillary Clinton in the presidential race. During the campaign, Tenney was endorsed by conservative groups and media personalities, including radio talk show host Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity. The NRCC had also initially lined up behind Congresswoman Tenney’s Republican primary opponents before ultimately supporting her in the general election.
Congressman Crowley Elected as House Democratic Caucus Chairman
Congressman Joe Crowley, who has represented Queens and parts of the Bronx in the House since 1999, was unanimously elected by House Democrats to serve as the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus for the 115th Congress. Congressman Crowley will be succeeding Xavier Becerra, who was appointed attorney general of California earlier this month by Governor Jerry Brown. Crowley is now the fourth-ranking member in House Democratic leadership.