Three contentious Democratic House primaries to watch in New York


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NEW YORK — Two heavyweight Democratic committee leaders are locked in a battle; only one can win. Former President Donald Trump’s meddling has shaken up another race. A third contest features the party’s congressional campaign chair facing down a progressive challenger backed by a local hero.

Welcome to the New York Democratic primary campaign, a chaotic season that has featured clashes over ideology, generational change and the quality of the party’s leadership, with the careers of prominent politicians hanging in the balance.

The primary was delayed after the courts tossed out an earlier congressional map and established a new one, setting off a number of intraparty fights that will be settled in House races in and around the city Tuesday.

Here are three key Democratic primaries to watch:

Clash of the committee chairs

The race in the 12th Congressional District pits two powerful House chairs against each other: Jerry Nadler of the Judiciary Committee, who represents the Upper West Side, and Carolyn Maloney of the Oversight Committee, who represents the Upper East Side. The new map blends their districts, setting up a winner-take-all primary serving as a de facto general election in this Democratic stronghold.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., campaigns on the Upper East Side of New York City on Aug. 16, 2022.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., campaigns Tuesday on the Upper East Side of New York City.Mary Altaffer / AP

The two septuagenarians have served together in neighboring districts for three decades and risen to prominent positions in Washington since they were first elected 1992. Nadler has chaired the Judiciary Committee for more than three years, spearheading both of Trump’s impeachments, as well as Democrats’ gun bills. Maloney took the Oversight Committee gavel in late 2019, using the perch to investigate the firearms industry and election misinformation.

Their voting records in recent years align. But at a recent debate, Nadler dug farther back to note he opposed the Iraq War and the Patriot Act, while Maloney supported both; he also noted that he backed the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, while she opposed it.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, right, autographs a picture for supporter during a campaign stop on the Upper West Side in New York on Aug. 20, 2022, while state Sen. Brad Hoylman takes a photo.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, right, autographs a picture for supporters at a campaign stop Saturday on the Upper West Side of New York City as state Sen. Brad Hoylman takes a photo.Julius Constantine Motal / NBC News

Only one of them can serve in Congress next year.

The race also includes a wild card, with Suraj Patel, 38, a lawyer, running on the theme of generational change; Patel said in a recent debate that it’s “time to turn the page on 1992.”

Trump meddles in Manhattan

A crowded contest pits freshman Rep. Mondaire Jones, a progressive millennial who is one of the first two openly gay Black members of Congress, against wealthy attorney Dan Goldman.

Attorney Dan Goldman, right, is joined by his family as he votes early in the Democratic primary election on Aug. 17, 2022, in New York.
Attorney Dan Goldman, right, is joined by his family Wednesday as he votes early in the Democratic primary in New York.Mary Altaffer / AP

In an unusual move, Trump has sought to influence the primary by issuing a backhanded endorsement of Goldman, a former federal prosecutor who was counsel for House Democrats during the former president’s first impeachment inquiry.

Trump bragged about being acquitted in the trial and said on social media that “it is my great honor to Strongly Endorse” Goldman, predicting he has “a wonderful future ahead.”

Goldman dismissed it as an “obvious effort to manipulate the election to prevent me from standing up to him again in Congress.”

Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, left, and Rep. Mondaire Jones stand together during a news conference to speak out against Dan Goldman's candidacy on Aug. 15, 2022, in New York.
Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou and U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones at a news conference to speak out against Dan Goldman’s candidacy in New York on Aug. 15. Niou, Jones and Goldman are running in the Democratic congressional primary in New York’s 10th District.Mary Altaffer / AP file

He has become a target of Democratic rivals, too. Jones has branded Goldman “a conservative” in the battle for the 10th District, which covers Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. Meanwhile, City Council member Carlina Rivera of Manhattan and state Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou are pitching progressive platforms and have urged voters in the deep blue area not to support Goldman.

Campaign chief battles AOC-backed rival

In a suburban district covering parts of Westchester County and the Hudson Valley, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, faces a challenge from Alessandra Biaggi, a progressive state senator who has the backing of a local star, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Maloney is seen as the favorite in the newly drawn district, which is a short train ride from New York City on the Metro-North rail.

New York 17th Congressional District Democratic primary candidate state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi speaks in Sleepy Holloy, N.Y., on Aug. 13, 2022.
State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, a candidate in the Democratic primary in New York’s 17th Congressional District, speaks in Sleepy Hollow on Aug. 13.Mary Altaffer / AP file

Biaggi has criticized Maloney’s leadership of the campaign arm, taking issue with the party’s acceptance of corporate money, its support of anti-abortion Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, and its decision to prop up a far-right Michigan candidate in a GOP primary whom Democrats see as easy prey in a general election.

Maloney defended the Michigan meddling Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” saying: “My job is to win elections for the Democrats. And I take that seriously, because the moral imperative is keeping the gavel out of the hands of Kevin McCarthy,” the House Republican leader from California. “Here’s the deal: We are more likely to win that seat.”

The contest has strained relations among New York Democrats.

After his district was carved up, Jones was blindsided by Maloney’s announcement that he would run in the new 17th District, which includes parts of Jones’ current district. Jones then opted to compete in a Manhattan district, instead.

Some had expected Maloney to run in a different district, and Ocasio-Cortez even suggested he step aside as chair of the campaign committee.


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