Congressman-elect Marc Molinaro has spent every day of his adult life working in public service.
At age 19, the Republican was elected mayor of Tivoli in Dutchess County and has since held an array of positions, from state lawmaker in the New York Assembly to, most recently, Dutchess County executive.
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He’ll take the experience he’s learned along the way to Washington in January, where the member-elect said he hopes to urge the newly “divided and balanced” Congress to find compromise and get things done.
“I just see the world very pragmatically. We have a problem, it needs to get solved. How do we get people to come to some agreement on that?” Molinaro told the Washington Examiner. “I’m under no illusion that happens easily in Washington. It’s obviously more complicated. But I intend to leverage all of that experience to try to mold consensus within the conference on important issues and then, of course, [work] across the aisle on important issues.”
Molinaro was elected to represent New York’s 19th Congressional District, defeating Democratic opponent Josh Riley and flipping the seat back to GOP control for the first time since 2018. The seat emerged as one of the most competitive pickup opportunities for both parties after it was left open by Rep. Pat Ryan (D-NY), who opted to run for reelection in the neighboring 18th Congressional District.
Molinaro’s victory was one of several GOP gains in the Empire State, as Republicans managed to flip four competitive seats in the Long Island and Hudson Valley areas — ultimately helping the party clinch control of the House.
While some have wondered if these Republican gains in New York indicate a rightward trend in the state, Molinaro believes his victory, along with that of other Republicans, was a result of a perfect storm working in their favor.
“We had … quality candidates who were focused on connecting with voters. I know I spent every day of the last year and a half in and around the district, listening to residents and asking what’s important to them and then taking that and making that our message,” Molinaro said.
That approach, paired with a redistricting outcome that obliterated Democratic hopes of deeper inroads in the state as well as a competitive governor’s race, helped elevate Republicans to victory in New York, according to Molinaro.
“It isn’t about [being] Republican or Democrat. It’s just about getting better policies in the state and in this nation that reflect and represent the people,” he said. ”They’re just tired of the government not working. And they’re offended by a government that just doesn’t listen and respond to them.”
Looking ahead, Molinaro is eyeing positions on committees such as Transportation and Infrastructure and wants to prioritize issues such as inflation and housing affordability.
Throughout his campaign, Molinaro has also been outspoken about efforts to expand mental health services and increase accessibility for those with disabilities, pointing to his personal connection to those issues.
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Molinaro said he was raised by a mother with undiagnosed depression, and he is the parent of a daughter with an intellectual and developmental disability.
“That population often gets overlooked and, frankly, treated as second-class,” he said.