Schumer Backs Nadler in Take Two of New York Primary
State Features a Number of Congressional Races to Watch
NEW YORK — When New Yorkers head to the polls on Tuesday, Aug. 23, it will be the second time in two months that they’ll be asked to vote in a crucial primary election.
Once again, a drawn-out redistricting process is the cause.
Earlier this year, the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, tossed out district maps created by Democrats on the grounds that they were unlawful political gerrymanders, intended solely to preserve the party’s vice-like hold on power across the state.
New lines for both the congressional and state district maps were then drawn by a court-appointed special master, and the changes required a revamping of the political calendar. The result was a bifurcated primary process.
In June, voters cast ballots for statewide and state Assembly races. This coming Tuesday, they’re being asked to come to the polls again, to vote in a series of state Senate and U.S. House primaries.
Of course, the most talked about contest is the one taking place in the 12th Congressional District in Manhattan, where Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., is running against Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y.
Traditionally, Nadler has represented the Upper West Side of Manhattan, while Maloney has represented the Upper East Side.
With this year’s redistricting, however, their two districts have been partially combined, and early discussions to have one of the two run in another district went nowhere. Nadler resisted calls to seek reelection in his reconfigured 10th Congressional District, and decided to challenge Maloney for her longtime seat.
The primary is especially noteworthy in that the two candidates occupy two top leadership positions in the House.
Nadler is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, while Maloney is the chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee.
A recent poll showed Nadler appearing to peak at the right time, pulling ahead for a nine point lead over Maloney, while his support rose 19 percentage points from where it stood in May.
Maloney, meanwhile, seemed to be maintaining support rather than adding substantially to it.
Attorney Suraj Patel, the third candidate in the race, has been arguing that what New York really needs is a new generation of leaders. Though he only garnered the support of 11% of participants in the poll, his numbers were also up from May, gaining 7 percentage points.
Seventeen percent of respondents said they continue to be undecided.
Nadler also gained a potentially crucial endorsement this past week, when Sen. Chuck Schumer, D.-N.Y., the state’s most powerful Democrat and current Senate Majority Leader, said he’d decided to throw his support behind the candidate.
Though the real import of the endorsement won’t be known until Tuesday, political pundits in the state said it could be the difference maker, helping those torn between Nadler and Maloney align with one camp or the other.
“New York has a lot of outstanding leaders, but few of them lead with the courage, conviction and brilliant legislative effectiveness of my friend, Jerry Nadler,” Schumer said in a written statement released last week.
“I’ve watched as time after time, Jerry — a critical partner of mine in the House — was right on the issues years before so many others,” he said.
That Schumer should come out for Nadler wasn’t that much of a surprise. The two men had served in the New York State Assembly together and both were members of the New York City delegation in the House before Schumer ran for Senate in 1998.
In that race, Nadler endorsed Schumer.
The Maloney team responded to Schumer’s announcement philosophically, but it had to smart a little. Up to that point, no other high profile Democrat had picked a candidate in the race.
Because Nadler and Maloney are running in the 12th Congressional District, a rare opening has been created in the 10th Congressional District, which includes parts of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.
At one point, earlier this summer, 15 Democrats were actively running for the seat, though at least one, former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has since dropped out of the crowded field.
The latest polls have Daniel Goldman, an investigator in the first impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, ahead in the polls with the support of 22% of the Democratic voters surveyed.
State Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, who has been courting progressive support and is endorsed by the Working Families Party, is second with 17% of support from those surveyed.
Other notables in the contest include Rep. Mondaire Jones, who currently represents New York’s 17th Congressional District and Elizabeth Holzman, a veteran of the city’s political scene who was once the youngest woman elected to Congress, and is now, at 81, running to be the oldest nonincumbent elected to Congress.
But it is Goldman who appears to have the momentum. In recent days he’s picked up key endorsements from state Sen. Brad Hoylman and Grace Lee, the Democratic nominee for a Chinatown Assembly seat.
Both said they see Goldman as having the experience to fight back against pro-Trump Republicans and the erosion of what they each referred to as “fundamental rights.”
All the way on the other side of the state is perhaps New York’s most interesting Republican primary — a race in the 23rd Congressional District pitting Buffalo-area developer Carl Paladino and Nick Langworthy, the state Republican Party chairman.
Both men consider themselves strong Republicans and supporters of Trump. The main issue between them is a series of racist, sexist and homophobic remarks Paladino has made to the press.
Langworthy has run on the premise that Paladino, who once said Adolf Hitler is “the kind of leader we need today,” is a long term liability for the party.
But it’s Paladino who has the money advantage in the race, and the backing of Rep. Elise Stefanik, the number three Republican in the House.
A second special election is also being held in New York’s 23rd Congressional District to fill out the remainder of the unexpired term of Republican Rep. Tom Reed, who resigned and left the House in May.
Former congressional aide Joe Sempolinski is widely expected to win the special election, but he is not running in the general election, leaving that race to Paladino and Langworthy.
Another race to watch is New York’s 17th Congressional District, where Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is facing a challenge from progressive state Senator Alessandra Biaggi.
The race has been described as “a proxy fight” between the centrist and hard left wing of the Democratic party, as Biaggi has been endorsed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
If that’s the case, it appears the centrists are poised to prevail. The last polls in the contest have Maloney up by double digits, some by as much as 34 percentage points.
And then there’s the special election being held in New York’s 19th Congressional District, to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-N.Y., when he became lieutenant governor in the wake of former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin’s resignation.
Benjamin resigned after being indicted on fraud and bribery charges.
Because the lines of the district were redrawn, the race to finish Delgado’s unexpired term is being held at the same time as the race to represent the 19th Congressional District in the next Congress.
Republican March Molinaro, the current Dutchess County executive, is running in both contests. However, his Democratic opponent in the special election, Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, is running in the 18th Congressional District in the general election.