Westchester Rep. Mondaire Jones is trying to dodge accusations that he’s a carpetbagger in his run for the newly-drawn NY-10 Congressional District — but the freshman Democrat has been using footage from the suburbs in his ads meant to convince New York City voters he’s one of them.
In his two most recent TV ads, Jones — who was born and raised in Rockland County — recycled B-roll footage from his 2020 campaign where he sits with suburban constituents in a diner nowhere near the Lower Manhattan to brownstone Brooklyn district he’s vying to represent.
“He believes he can win the race by advertising to people and convincing them that being part of the community doesn’t matter,” longtime Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf on the recycled footage, calling it a “lazy” move.
“If you don’t know where Brooklyn is, you gotta use b-roll from the place you know.”
Much of the footage in progressive congressman Jones’ new advertisements does appear to be filmed in New York City.
Jones’ current district, NY-17, included his hometown Spring Valley, but he decided to run in the newly-drawn city district instead. The decision came after Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who is also the House Democratic Congressional Committee chairman, decided to leave his own NY-18 district that had become more competitive under the court-ordered redraw of New York state’s congressional map and run in Jones’.
The courts ruled earlier this year that the Democratic lawmakers in New York engaged in illegal partisan gerrymandering to win more congressional seats and threw out their redistricted maps. Republican critics derisively called the illegally drawn redistricting a “Hochulmander” because Gov. Kathy Hochul approved it.
Doug Muzzio, a political science professor at CUNY’s Baruch College, said Jones’ decision to use the footage of his old district “fundamentally shows an ignorance of basic political messaging,” which he was surprised by given the Squad member’s previous displays of political acumen.
“He does not seem to have his head or his heart in the race,” Muzzio said, who thinks Jones’ is coming off as a “carpetbagger.”
“It couldn’t hurt to film B-roll of residents in recognizable street names or of structures in Brooklyn,” he added.
Public records show Jones has the cash on hand to film new footage as well, with a $2.8 million war chest as of late June. He and Dan Goldman – the lead House lawyer during the first impeachment of former President Donald Trump– are the only two candidates in the crowded NY-10 race to be running TV ads.
“First a multimillion dollar war chest and now b-roll — Mondaire Jones is bringing everything but the Rockland County constituents he deserted down to New York City,” sniped Goldman spokesman Simone Kanter.
Sheinkopf says in a crowded primary with more than six serious candidates, Jones has a shot, but thinks his upstate bonafides won’t help.
“People want somebody who has familiarity with his individual community concerns. He just doesn’t know them, and you can’t know that unless you live there,” the strategist said.
“Yes, there is footage of Rep. Jones talking to New Yorkers in his ads,” said Jones’ spokesperson Bill Neidhardt, who falsely claimed the story was being pushed by opponent Dan Goldman.
Sheinkopf said voters in the new district Jones is running for might feel decieved when they realize the extent of the candidate’s Southern New York ties.
“It will make people who view themselves as very smart and educated feel like they’ll be conned,” he said. “To show you care and belong, you would at least shoot film that looks like it’s in the district.”