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Former CNN anchor John Avlon announces bid for Congress

Former CNN anchor John Avlon announces bid for Congress

Former CNN anchor John Avlon announced a bid Wednesday for New York’s 1st congressional District, claiming “democracy is in danger.”

In a video posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, Avlon said he was running to help preserve democracy and build a broad coalition against former President Trump, the current GOP presidential front-runner.

“I believe the United States is the greatest democracy the world has ever known. But right now, our democracy is in danger,” the former news anchor said in the video. “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. There’s just too much at stake for the country and the community that I love.”

“We need to build the broadest possible coalition to defeat Donald Trump, defend our democracy and win back the House from his MAGA minions who don’t even seem interested in solving problems anymore,” he added.

Avlon also vowed to focus on rebuilding the middle class, investing in infrastructure, protecting women’s reproductive rights and combatting climate change.

His announcement comes just two weeks after departing CNN, which he joined in 2010 and where he became a full-time employee in 2018. He is also the former editor in chief of The Daily Beast and a founding leader of the “No Labels” movement.

At the time of his departure from CNN, Avlon wrote in a piece, “Democracies depend on citizens engaging in political debates in good faith. They depend on elevating facts over fiction. They depend on citizens getting in the arena, rather than retreating from it, especially during hard times.”

Avlon joins an already-crowded field of Democrats looking to unseat first-term Rep. Nick LaLota (R), who was elected as part of a wave of New York Republicans — who proved instrumental in flipping the House to GOP control — in the 2022 midterms.

The Empire State’s 1st District has a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+6.

In a statement to The Hill, a spokesperson for LaLota’s campaign slammed Avlon as a “a Manhattan elitist without any attachments to Long Island other than his summer home in the Hamptons.”

“Avlon knows nothing about Suffolk County other than Sag Harbor croquet matches and summer cocktail parties in Bridgehampton,” Will Kiley, the congressman’s campaign spokesperson, said in the statement.

Kiley continued, saying it would take burning “millions of his friends’ money” for Avlon to learn the district “has a history” of rejecting “elitists” both from out-of-state and Manhattan, across the aisle, who attempt “to buy a seat in Congress.”

“To the contrary, Congressman LaLota has dedicated much of his adult life to serving the United States and Suffolk County and has been the common sense conservative voice Long Island needs at this crucial time in our great nation’s history,” Kiley added.

The Hill has reached out to Avlon’s campaign for comment.

Avlon will be running in a crowded Democratic primary that includes former state Sen. James Gaughran; former New York City administrative law judge Craig Herskowitz, who also worked for former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration; and Kyle Hill, a health care policy expert and former senior legislative aide.

Organic chemist Nancy Goroff is also running in the primary after losing to former Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) by 11 points in 2020.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) said Avlon’s entry into the race “adds even more leftist fuel to an already crowded dumpster fire of a Democrat primary.”

“We look forward to litigating this smug, liberal hack’s past so voters can see just how Left he and the rest of the modern Democrat party have become,” NRCC spokesperson Savannah Viar added.

CNN commentator David Axelrod, who served as White House senior adviser under President Obama, praised Avlon for his decision to run for the seat.

“My old colleague @JohnAvlon would be a great and impactful member of Congress. He’s thoughtful, incisive and passionate about our country and its future,” Axelrod wrote on X in response to the campaign announcement.

Updated at 3:53 p.m. ET

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