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General News

Greek-American John Avlon, Ex-CNN Political Analyst, Running for Congress

February 23, 2024

NEW YORK – Greek-American John Avlon, a Democrat and former CNN political analyst, announced on February 21 that he is running for Congress in New York’s 1st Congressional District, the New York Times reported, noting that he is entering “a crowded congressional primary to try to flip a Republican-held swing seat on Long Island.”

Avlon posted a video on X of his announcement, saying “I believe the United States is the greatest democracy the world has ever known. And right now, our democracy is in danger. This election is not a drill. It’s up to all of us to step up and get off the sidelines. And that’s why I’m running for Congress in New York’s 1st district.”

“A moderate who once worked for Rudolph W. Giuliani and helped found the centrist political group No Labels, Avlon emerged in recent years as a piercing critic of former President Donald J. Trump and the Republican Party he has refashioned in his image,” the Times reported, adding that Avlon, 51, said in an interview that “he felt compelled to step from journalism into the political fray to help ‘break this fever’ and oust ‘MAGA minions who are not even trying to solve problems in the national interest.’”

“The seriousness of the times really sunk into me,” he told the Times.

“Winning the Suffolk County district will be no easy task for a Democrat,” the Times reported, noting that “it is currently held by Representative Nick LaLota, a first-term Republican,” and “though President Biden won the district by 0.2 percentage points in 2020, LaLota sailed to an 11-point victory two years later.”

“Democrats in Washington do not currently consider the district a top-tier target on par with more favorable suburban swing seats elsewhere in New York, but that could still change, as Democrats in Albany weigh whether to use a rare mid-decade court-ordered redistricting process to draw a more favorable congressional map,” the Times reported, adding that “on Long Island, Democrats got a shot of optimism last week when Tom Suozzi won a special election, flipping a neighboring Queens and Nassau County seat that had been held by a Republican, George Santos.”

“Avlon is likely to face a difficult Democratic primary fight in June,” the Times reported, noting that “Nancy Goroff, a wealthy retired chemistry professor who ran unsuccessfully for the seat in 2020, has been considered the front-runner,” and “Jim Gaughran, a former state senator, and Kyle Hill, a former congressional aide, are also seeking the nomination.”

“In the interview, Avlon said that Ms. Goroff’s adverse 2020 results ‘kind of speak for themselves’ and argued that he was uniquely positioned to pitch a big tent for voters,” the Times reported, adding that “he cited the threat to abortion rights and the perils of climate change as top campaign priorities, but he also said Democrats should learn from Mr. Suozzi’s successful playbook and ‘play offense’ on issues like crime and the migrant crisis overwhelming the southern border.”

“This is too important to lose; we need candidates who can have appeal and energize not just Democrats but independents,” he told the Times. “That’s the simple math of it.”

Avlon “has deep connections in New York City politics and journalism,” the Times reported, noting that “he served as Giuliani’s policy adviser and chief speechwriter during his mayoralty and presidential campaign, or, as Avlon said, ‘when he was sane.’” Avlon “later joined The Daily Beast as a columnist, and rose to be its editor-in-chief before joining CNN as an on-air commentator full time in 2018,” the Times reported, noting that however, “his ties to the district are shallower.”

“A longtime Manhattan resident, he bought a house in 2017 in Sag Harbor, the wealthy Hamptons enclave, with his wife, Margaret Hoover,” the Times reported, adding that “she is a conservative who hosts ‘Firing Line,’ the PBS talk show,” and “voting records show that Avlon voted in Suffolk County for the first time in 2020.”

Critics from both parties did not wait long to respond to Avlon’s announcement of his run for Congress.

“Avlon knows nothing about Suffolk County other than Sag Harbor croquet matches and summer cocktail parties in Bridgehampton,” Will Kiley, a spokesman for LaLota, said, the Times reported, noting that “he called Avlon a ‘Manhattan elitist’ and the Republican incumbent a ‘common sense conservative voice.’”

“Goroff was more diplomatic, saying she would ‘welcome anyone who is ready to join the fight,’” the Times reported, adding that however, “behind the scenes, her allies were already sharpening attacks on Avlon’s residency and his political history with Republicans that are likely to burst into the open in the coming months.”

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