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Obama Chief of Staff McDonough Endorses Farkas for Congress

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Evelyn Farkas, Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Obama, has announced that Denis McDonough, President Obama's longest serving chief of staff, has endorsed her campaign to succeed Representative Nita Lowey to represent New York's 17th Congressional District. Farkas is the only candidate in the race with federal legislative and policy experience.

"I have worked with Evelyn for decades—our paths first crossed in the Senate and then again in the Obama Administration," said McDonough. "From the White House Situation Room, where Evelyn and I spent many hours in the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, to the halls of Congress, Evelyn has proven herself time and again as a leader who embodies the qualities that make a great congressional representative—knowledgeable, dedicated in service to America, and quick to do whatever she can for those in need. The people of New York's 17th Congressional District have sent just such a remarkable leader to the US Congress for decades. In Evelyn, the people of the 17th Congressional District have the opportunity to continue that tradition. She has faced down tests from foreign dictators and domestic partisans alike and has the experience to make a difference for the country on day one. I urge them to seize this moment and elect Dr. Evelyn Farkas to represent them in Congress."

Before coming to the White House, McDonough served as Obama's chief foreign policy advisor when he represented Illinois in the United States Senate.

"Denis McDonough was a stalwart presence in President Obama's White House, and a constant ally in the fight for democracy and a thoughtful, diplomacy-first foreign policy," Farkas said. "As someone who has worked in the House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and at the highest levels of President Obama's administration, Denis knows what it takes to lead in Washington, and he knows that I will fight for what is best for our nation and my district—I am proud to have earned his support."

McDonough's endorsement follows a number of fellow Obama Administration alumni who are supporting Farkas, including Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, former ambassadors Stuart Eizenstat and Daniel Shapiro, and Dr. Zeke Emanuel, a key architect of the Affordable Care Act. Other notable endorsements include EMILY's List, over half a dozen sitting U.S. representatives, former U.S. senators, NY State Sen. Tom Duane, former NARAL-Pro Choice NY and Planned Parenthood Federation of America Board Chair Jill Lafer, and progressive activists Rob Reiner and Jane Lynch.

The daughter of Hungarian refugees, Farkas was raised in Westchester and attended public schools there. For nearly three decades, she has represented the United States defending democracy and advancing human rights in the Defense Department and on the Senate Armed Services Committee staff. In addition to serving as executive director of the WMD Commission, she was a human rights officer in Bosnia and a professor at the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College. She has advised former cabinet secretaries, representatives and senators, including Hillary Clinton.