Mr. Maloney, who chairs the House Democrats’ campaign operation, is courting the ultra-Orthodox Jewish voting blocs in hopes of swinging close races in the region, despite their overwhelming support for former President Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020.
In a letter obtained by The Washington Times, Mr. Maloney and Democratic newcomer Rep. Pat Ryan asked state officials to forgive a Hasidic community debt for a water project.
The letter urged the New York Health Department to use funds from the bipartisan infrastructure law that President Biden signed last year to forgive the debt incurred for a $94 million water project by the Yiddish-speaking village of Kiryas Joel.
The letter was on letterhead from Mr. Ryan’s congressional office and signed by him and Mr. Maloney.
Mr. Maloney and Mr. Ryan did not respond to The Times’ requests for comment.
Though Hasidic Jews make up only 1% of the state’s total population and 10% of New York’s Jewish population, they’ve become increasingly sought after by candidates because they tended to garner thousands of votes which could make the difference in a close election, especially in a vulnerable year for Democrats.
“You’re not playing here for five votes. You’re playing here for 10,000 votes, 15,000 votes, 5,000 votes, some significant number,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran Democratic strategist based in New York.
Kiryas Joel, which is located in Orange County, could deliver roughly 10,000 votes in Tuesday’s elections. It is completing a 13.5-mile pipeline project to connect itself to New York City’s Catskill Aqueduct for a long-term water supply.
“Their project is extremely important to the residents of the Village and has the potential to help multiple communities in the region better access reliable drinking water,” the members wrote in September. “We ask for your firm commitment that New York State will give full and fair consideration of these requests which will expand access to clean and reliable drinking water in the Hudson Valley.”
Mr. Ryan won a special election in August with 51% of the vote in what was considered a significant victory for Democrats and Mr. Maloney‘s leadership of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
On Tuesday, voters will decide the contests between Mr. Ryan and Republican Assemblyman Colin Schmitt in another tougher-than-expected race in the Huson Valley just north of New York City.
Mr. Ryan’s special election win was a signature success for Mr. Maloney, who ushered it in as DCCC chair and represented Mr. Ryans’s district before the lines were redrawn this year.
After the letter was sent, Kyrias Joel leadership lobbied the town’s Republican mayor to endorse Mr. Ryan, an Orange County official told The Times.
In Mr. Maloney‘s race, President Biden stepped in to sway Hasidic Jews to vote for the congressman, who is running in the neighboring 17th District that also has substantial Hasidic communities.
Mr. Biden lobbied for Mr. Maloney’s support from Rabbi David Twersky, the chief rabbi for the Hasidic sect in the village of New Square.
In a phone call last month, Mr. Biden promised him an “open door” to his administration in exchange for his support.
Rabbi Twersky has a powerful sway over Hasidic voters in the district.
Mr. Biden’s phone call signaled “serious worry” in the party about Mr. Maloney’s chances that could tarnish Democrats’ image if their campaign chief is tanked, Mr. Sheinkopf said.
“That’s the question around Sean Patrick Maloney, who is the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and it’s the great embarrassment that the head of that committee would be in trouble electorally in the first place,” he said.
In a similar move, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy recently visited Rabbi Twersky to boost Mr. Maloney’s GOP opponent, Assemblyman Mike Lawler, reported Punchbowl News.
Hasidic leaders are expected to provide community residents with a “voting guide” on Sunday, which heavily influences who the community members support in the election.