Race for NY 18th Congressional Seat Full of Contenders


Diana Hird                          Phil Oliva

The 2016 18th Congressional District race is set to be an all out battle – on both sides.

The seat is presently held by Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, representing parts of Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess and Orange counties. Redistricting was last done in 2010 (which took effect in 2013) and saw New York’s Congressional spots reduced from 29 to 27. Peekskill, for example, was switched from the 19th district, represented at that time by Rep. Nan Hayworth, to the present 17th district held by Nita Lowey.


The GOP sees this seat as winnable, which is shown, by the number of candidates already announced. The field grew to 6 this past week with Westchester County resident Phil Oliva tossing his hat in the ring. Oliva, is not stranger to political campaigns and has experience on the state level with the Assembly Republican caucus and also with former Governor Pataki. For the last few years he has been an aide to Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and worked on his failed race for governor in 2014. Oliva has never run for political office before this announcement.

The other GOP contenders are John Lange of South Salem, Kenneth Del Vecchio of Warwick, Frank Spaminato of Newburgh, Dan Castricone (former Orange County Legislator) of Tuxedo and Samika Brown (former School Board President) of Poughkeepsie.

For the Democrats, Maloney will be challenged by Diana Hird. She is an attorney who lives in Cold Spring and has experience on Wall Street working for the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Both sides are unhappy with Maloney’s representation, or lack of it, while in office. Democrats see him as a tool for rich donors with very few small donors. The GOP sees the seat as a swing district that can be won. Both sides see Maloney as someone who doesn’t even live in the district. The charge is he actually lives in NYC and maintains a Cold Spring address for political purposes. Plus, Maloney narrowly beat Hayworth by 3,333 votes winning 47.7% to Hayworth’s 45.9%. That was with Independent Scott Smith on the ballot and receiving 2.3% of the vote. It is a Presidential election year so those statistics will have to be looked at very closely. Things change dramatically in Presidential elections because so many more people vote. That is how Maloney unseated Hayworth in the first place.

Maloney_Hayworth 2014

Regardless, it will all come down to money. That’s how it is with most campaigns but especially when running for Congress and Maloney seems to have a big advantage.

The Maloney/Hayworth rematch of 2014 saw a total expenditure of the race a record $11 million. Maloney spent roughly $4 million and Hayworth spent $3.4 million with $1.6 million of it coming from her personal funds. Outside groups spent roughly $3.5 million on the race. So far Hayworth is not running so there is no candidate from the GOP side that can contribute that much personal wealth to their candidacy. In 2014 the Democratic Congressional Campaign devoted $740,000 to Maloney while the National Republican Congressional Committee only contributed $26,000 to Hayworth. Was this because Hayworth had her own funds to use? Maybe, but the GOP candidates have a big disadvantage to overcome and a long, expensive primary won’t help.

InsidePEEK will keep an eye on this race and will update our readers as the campaign progresses.

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