Fajans-Turner, Ithaca Democrat, ends run for Congress after maps redrawn | Politics

One Democrat is ending their campaign for Congress after the final district maps were released over the weekend. 

Vanessa Fajans-Turner, an Ithaca Democrat, announced she will no longer run for Congress. She was one of six Democrats vying for the party’s nomination in the former 22nd Congressional District. The district included all or parts of eight counties, including Cayuga, Onondaga and Tompkins. 

The state Legislature drew the maps, but the state Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, agreed with lower court rulings that the districts were unconstitutional. The decision forced the congressional and state Senate districts to be redrawn under the supervision of state Supreme Court Judge Patrick McAllister. 

A special master, Dr. Jonathan Cervas, was tasked with drawing new lines. That process produced the maps released early Saturday. 

For Fajans-Turner, the major change was that Ithaca and Tompkins County are now in the 19th Congressional District. The new district stretches from the Southern Tier to the Hudson Valley. 

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Other Democrats are seeking the 19th district seat, namely Josh Riley, who like Fajans-Turner was a candidate in the now-former 22nd district. Riley, who lives in Ithaca and is a Broome County native, has been picking up endorsements in the new district. 

Fajans-Turner admitted the decision to end her campaign was difficult. 

“This new district is very different from the one in which I have been campaigning and building voter trust since launching in February,” she said in a statement late Sunday.

“We will need every resource to ensure Democrats win in November to fight back against Republicans’ attacks on our democracy, our fundamental rights, and our climate. I will not act in any way that splits the Democratic field in this new swing district with an established and well-funded Republican in the running. This national moment is larger than any individual candidate, and it is incumbent on all of us to work for the greater, common cause as the stakes of this race continue to rise.” 

The Republican mentioned by Fajans-Turner is Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro. While Dutchess County is not in the new 19th district, Molinaro already announced that he will continue his campaign for the seat. 

The National Republican Congressional Committee has added Molinaro to its Young Guns program — an indication that they are targeting this race as a possible pickup opportunity. 

During her short campaign, Fajans-Turner quickly established herself as a serious contender. She was considered the “climate candidate” because of her climate change expertise, particularly the role the financial sector plays in funding fossil fuels

In Fajans-Turner’s first fundraising quarter, she raised more than $250,000 — the second-highest total in the primary field. She was gaining momentum in the crowded primary, but then the maps were thrown out and the primary was moved — the congressional primary elections in New York will now be held on Tuesday, Aug. 23. 

“To say I’m grateful for everyone who believed in this campaign and its vision is the largest of understatements I can imagine,” Fajans-Turner said. “We campaigned to drive conversation and engagement around key issues in the community. While our time in this race has ended, our work most certainly has not.” 

Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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