by Barrett Seaman –
It’s been less than two months since longtime 17th District Congresswoman Nita Lowey, 82, announced her intention to retire at the end of the current term, yet the race to succeed her has already begun to fill—at least by Democrats. In November, three new prospects—two of them women—joined the fray, while new doubts arise about the candidacy of one previously announced contender. To date, no Republican in the decidedly blue-leaning district spanning Rockland and Westchester counties has stepped forward.
With an April 2 deadline for collecting at least 1,250 signatures and filing for a June 23rd primary, the jockeying will continue for another few months as aspirants scramble for money and polling results.
The two women now in the race are feminist activist and social media maven Allison Fine of Sleepy Hollow and former national security analyst and MSNBC contributor Dr. Evelyn Farkas of Chappaqua.
Fine, 55, is the immediate past chair of NARAL Pro-Choice America as well as the author of three books on how organizations can make the most of social media. She wants to redress the insecurity that defines most jobs these days by pushing for guaranteed employment benefits and portability. In addition to being staunchly pro-choice, she wants to give women entrepreneurs more access to capital. On the current national issues of climate change and health care, she is decidedly on the centrist side of the spectrum: she favors investment in alternative fuel technologies and a carbon tax but thinks the Green New Deal is “way too much.” Similarly, on health care, she wants to bring back a “robust public option” as envisioned in the original Obamacare. “I don’t think taking private insurance away from people is at all a possibility,” she says.
Her work in social media has made her an advocate of greater privacy protections for personal data as well as for children. “The through line,” she concludes, is giving people the power to control their own lives, and that’s exactly what they don’t have right now.”
Farkas, 51, grew up in Chappaqua and got her doctorate in international relations at Tufts’ Fletcher School of Diplomacy. She was a staffer for both the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Armed Services committees and a deputy assistant secretary of defense in the Obama administration. An expert on Russia and Ukraine, she has had a lot to say about the Trump administration’s dealings with those two countries—in particular as a contributor to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, where she had the opportunity to announce her congressional run on national TV.
Also joining the race last month was Adam Schleifer, 38, of Chappaqua, whose last job was as an assistant U.S. Attorney prosecuting the “Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal in California. Still in the race as well is White Plains Assemblyman David Buchwald, State Senator David Carlucci and Mondaire Jones, a 32-year-old graduate of Stanford and Harvard Law, an openly gay African-American who was the first to announce his candidacy last summer, well before Lowey announced her retirement.
Still unclear is the status of Assemblyman Tom Abinanti’s bid for the seat (see the November issue of The Hudson Independent). With talk in local Democratic circles that he was dropping out, Abinanti deflected a direct question about his intentions by saying only that he was running for reelection to the Assembly.