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Redrawn Districts in NY Primary Pit Progressives Against Self-Funded Millionaire & Nadler vs. Maloney

StoryAugust 23, 2022
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Image Credit: LinkedIn: Daniel Goldman

Primaries in New York’s redrawn congressional districts have led to heated battles within the Democratic Party that could have national implications. In the newly created 10th Congressional District, Dan Goldman, a conservative Democrat and heir to a multimillion-dollar Levi Strauss fortune, is running against a diverse field of candidates that includes Mondaire Jones, Yuh-Line Niou, Carlina Rivera and Elizabeth Holtzman. The New York Times endorsed Goldman without noting its publisher’s connection to the millionaire. Many congressional seats have been “thrown into chaos by redistricting” and seem to favor more conservative candidates, says Alex Sammon, staff writer at The American Prospect who has been closely following local races.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

Today, Florida, Oklahoma, New York have primary elections. We’re focusing on New York, where the primary comes after a court-appointed special master drew a new congressional map after New York’s top court rejected a previous new map it said was illegally gerrymandered to favor Democrats.

One closely watched race is in the redrawn Congressional District 10 in New York City, which still leans heavily Democrat, the race crowded with several progressives running, including Congressmember Mondaire Jones, who’s endorsed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; New York Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou; and New York City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera. Also running is Dan Goldman, who served as a federal prosecutor in former President Trump’s first impeachment trial. He opposes court reform, student debt cancellation and Medicare for All, and has a spotty record on support for abortion rights. His largely self-funded race, $4 million of his own fortune as heir to the Levi Strauss fortune.

Well, The New York Times drew scrutiny when it endorsed Dan Goldman without noting it was making an exception to its usual disdain for self-funded candidates or that the publisher of the Times, A.G. Sulzberger, lives in New York 10, has family ties to the Goldmans and did not recuse himself from the endorsement process. This prompted a rare news conference last week, where rival progressive candidates Yuh-Line Niou and Mondaire Jones joined together to speak out against Dan Goldman.

REP. MONDAIRE JONES: Conservative Democrat Dan Goldman cannot be allowed to purchase this congressional seat, certainly not in one of the most progressive congressional districts in the country.

ASSEMBLYMEMBER YUH-LINE NIOU: We can’t let a candidate so out of step with this district’s values buy themselves a congressional seat.

AMY GOODMAN: This all comes as the former longtime congressmember for District 10, Jerry Nadler, is now running against longtime incumbent Carolyn Maloney in Congressional District 12. These are two leaders of the Democratic Party in Congress.

For more, we’re joined by Alex Sammon, staff writer for The American Prospect, closely following all of this.

Alex, you wrote a piece, “New York Times Faces Backlash Over Dan Goldman Endorsement Debacle,” and your latest, “Could Yuh-Line Niou Run on the Working Families Party Line?” Talk about the significance of this New York primary nationally.

ALEX SAMMON: Yeah, it’s a really interesting primary. It’s obviously hotly contested. There are legitimately six candidates who are still within an arm’s race of winning this contest. And it’s one of the most progressive districts in the country, right? So, New York 10, I think, with its latest boundaries, is, I think, D plus 51, so we’re talking about one of the bluest districts in the country. And it’s one that, you know, rarely comes up for grabs. It is totally up for grabs right now and could go a number of different ways. But it looks like it may go to the most conservative candidate in the field, which is Dan Goldman, which is something that obviously has raised a lot of eyebrows, and it’s getting a lot of national attention.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And I wanted to ask you, in terms of the race between Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, they both claim to be progressives, but what’s your sense of how — of their records, and especially what will happen in a race where, in the middle of August, very few people are likely to vote?

ALEX SAMMON: Right. So, obviously, the New York electoral process has been just one long debacle, and the fact that it ends with a primary in late August, when turnout is going to be at absolute rock-bottom levels, you know, not a very successful show of the democratic process.

But the New York 12 race is interesting, right? Yeah, Jerry Nadler has been in Congress for almost 30 years. Carolyn Maloney has been in Congress for almost 30 years. Very rare to have two seriously senior Democrats up against each other like this. And I think both — right, both would like to be seen as the progressive in the race. I think the reality is, if you look closely at their records, you’ll see that Jerry Nadler is someone who really does have a long track record of championing progressive policies, of building the progressive base in New York City. And Carolyn Maloney doesn’t really have that. She’s someone who voted against the Iran deal and has kind of a checkered record on some of these progressive priorities.

And I think, most importantly, actually, for this race, Nadler is the chair of the House Judiciary Committee and has done some really excellent work on antitrust legislation and taking on Big Tech and forwarding some of these anti-monopoly policies that are a high priority for the party at this moment. And Carolyn Maloney is the head of the House Oversight Committee, which has been a really notoriously weak committee in Congress, and it’s the one that was tasked with obtaining President Trump’s tax returns. And there’s a reason we still don’t have those, or at least Congress hasn’t gotten a hold of them, and that’s because that committee is not very effective. And so, I think if you’re comparing the two of them, you’s say that Nadler has the record to kind of back up his claim, which is that he’s the New York progressive with the history and the track record and, you know, should continue to be the person that New York sends to Congress from this district.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: There’s also another race in the 17th Congressional District that pits a centrist Democrat, Sean Patrick Maloney, against a much more progressive state senator, Alessandra Biaggi. Can you talk about that race and how it’s shaping up?

ALEX SAMMON: Yeah, this is another race, it’s another open seat, thrown into chaos by redistricting. Maloney is the DCCC chair. He’s one of the more conservative members of the Democratic delegation in Congress, certainly one of the most conservative members of the New York delegation. And he has a high, obviously, leadership position, in that he runs the DCCC, but he’s got a pretty mixed record on climate and the environment. He was closely involved with a fossil fuel plant up in his district that a number of activists were strongly against, that actually New York state decided was in violation of environmental rules in the state.

And he has a progressive challenger, Alessandra Biaggi. Maloney is backed by the Democratic Majority for Israel PAC, which is one of the huge money super PACs — it’s affiliated with AIPAC — that is really taking over the Democratic primary process, especially in this cycle. They’ve spent millions of dollars in these races to protect more conservative candidates and ensure that they get elected again. Biaggi is obviously a progressive, has a track record on progressive issues, but is facing a serious uphill battle because Maloney has so much more money, obviously has the incumbency of having — being a current member in Congress and having a leadership position.

And so, it’s a battle to be closely watched, again. It’s one I think progressives would really like to win. Maloney made a lot of enemies also by choosing to run in 17, when he could have run in 18, where he currently is, which would have been slightly more difficult. There’s slightly more Republicans in 18. But he chose to take the easier route by running in 17, and he bumped Mondaire Jones, who’s a current congressman, out of 17, where he currently resides, and into 10, so set off this chaotic race. And yeah, that’s also a race that will be closely watched but is a little bit of a longshot at this point, I think, for Biaggi.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you co-authored this piece, Alex, “New York Times Faces Backlash Over Dan Goldman Endorsement Debacle,” New York Times endorsing three white men in a very diverse primary race: Sean Patrick Maloney and Jerry Nadler and Dan Goldman. Can you talk about Dan Goldman and the person right up against him, Mondaire Jones, the significance of — Yuh-Line Niou, as well — the significance of the Times not revealing the close ties of the publisher to the Goldman family?

ALEX SAMMON: Yeah, absolutely. There are a lot of irregularities, actually, in this endorsement. And in the header, you’ll — if you read the endorsement, it says that these three races could decide whether Democrats or Republicans hold the House starting next year. And that’s just not true. All three races are safe Democratic races, and there’s really no way the Republicans are going to win any of those three seats. So it kind of steps off on this kind of — you know, this just inaccurate description of the political climate in New York and these elections.

And the race, in particular, in 10 is fascinating, because — right? — the endorsement, if you read it, speaks glowingly of Mondaire Jones. If you read it without knowing who they were going to endorse, you would assume at the very least that Jones would be receiving a co-endorsement. But it ends up, you know, endorsing — they end up endorsing Goldman. And of the six candidates that I mentioned, Goldman is the only one who isn’t and hasn’t held elected office. He’s the white man in the race. This is a majority minority district. It’s New York City’s most diverse. And they don’t even mention two of the four, really, of the front-runners even of that six. Yuh-Line Niou and Carlina Rivera don’t even get mentioned in the text of the endorsement. So, those things are, you know, very peculiar.

And then, to add on top of that, the fact that the publisher didn’t disclose his close ties to — the Sulzberger family and the Goldman family have ties going back decades. That’s not disclosed. He didn’t recuse himself from the endorsement process. And the fact that the Times editorial board, ultimately, in the statement that we were given, said that, you know, the editorial board answers to the public here, and these endorsements —

AMY GOODMAN: We have to leave it there. Alex Sammon, I want to thank you —

ALEX SAMMON: — reflect that.

AMY GOODMAN: — so much for being with us. We’ll link your coverage at The American Prospect.

Very happy birthday to Julie Crosby. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

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