Race for House seat in New York’s 10th Borough heats up as de Blasio drops out
The hotly contested Democratic race to represent the new House neighborhood spanning lower Manhattan and Brooklyn brownstone was rocked last week when former Mayor de Blasio dropped out early, bowing to pitiful polling numbers.
More twists can be incoming.
The race for the district, New York’s 10th, drew a teeming tent of hopefuls, more than a dozen in total.
And though analysts leaning into the polls are spying that a higher tier is crystallizing after de Blasio’s humiliating exit, the contest in the safe blue district looks generally shaky with less than a month to go until the day of the presidential primaries. August 23.
“It’s almost like watching the Kentucky Derby with 20 horses,” said Bruce Gyory, a Democratic strategist who follows the campaign closely. “Who gets the way open? And who benefits?
The diverse neighborhood stretches from the West Village in Manhattan to Bensonhurst in Brooklyn, including the lavish halls of Wall Street, the chaotic blocks of Chinatown and the sprawling public housing complexes of Red Hook and the Lower East Side.
A trio of candidates from lower Manhattan have pushed to the front of the field — for now.
These include Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, who recently spearheaded an abortion protection campaign in the Council and garnered key endorsements early in the campaign, and MP Yuh-Line Niou, who immigrated from Taiwan as a child and established a particularly progressive platform.
Daniel Goldman, 46, who lives in Tony Tribeca and led the House‘s first impeachment inquiry into former President Donald Trump, appears to be running alongside Rivera and Niou.
All three hopefuls have won double-digit support in a pair of public opinion polls that have surfaced this month. But both polls showed at least a quarter of voters still said they were undecided.
Rivera may have played the biggest role in bringing de Blasio’s path to a quick close. She won a coveted endorsement from SEIU United Healthcare Workers East Local 1199, the city’s largest union, which helped push de Blasio to city hall in 2013.
“I am the proud product of a union home,” said Rivera, who presents herself as a pragmatic politician focused on housing and education, and bristles at ideological litmus tests. “They saw me working,” she added of the 1199 endorsement.
She also appears to have made the fewest mistakes of any leading contender in the field, though her campaign was dropped last week to clarify an ambiguous answer she gave to a question – from Jewish media outlet Hamodia – about the religious exemptions for anti-gay businesses. . (Her campaign has made clear that she opposes such exemptions.)
Meanwhile, Niou, from the financial district, has won the valuable support of the Progressive Working Families Party, which recently released a poll showing that she and Rivera ended up in the lead at 16%.
A prolific tweeter, Niou is an outspoken activist who joined a hunger strike for taxi drivers last year. The 39-year-old supports divestment from Israel and the redistribution of police funds. In winter, she liked a tweet comparing cops to Nazis; she later suggested it was an accident.
Niou and Goldman did not make themselves available for interviews for this story, although Goldman’s campaign released a two-sentence statement praising his “vision for protecting our democracy and defending our basic rights.”
The top well-funded candidate may have hurt liberal voters last week by telling Hamodia he wouldn’t oppose a state law banning abortions after a fetus is considered as viable. He quickly backtracked, but his rivals poured on him. (In May, it tweeted“You can be anti-abortion and pro-choice.”)
In recent polls, the three favorites led Rep. Mondaire Jones, a first-time congressman from suburban White Plains who was pulled from his current district in the spring and then moved to the Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn. to present themselves in the 10th Arrondissement.
Jones, one of the first openly gay black lawmakers elected to Congress, entered the race with cash and considered a frontrunner by insiders.
But he hasn’t caught on yet, trailing the top three in public and internal polls, and struggling to meet criticism of his politically motivated relocation. It languished in the single digits in early polls.
In an interview Friday, Jones said he has a “deep connection” to the district. The 35-year-old said the district “helped me become the person I am today: an effective progressive leader.”
He noted defensively that Rivera lives outside the district.
She recently moved to a house in Kips Bay, eight blocks across the district’s borders, but grew up in housing on the District’s Lower East Side Section 8, and was a longtime resident of the East Village, also in the district, where she worked as a community council member and organizer.
“For people who love this city,” said Rivera, 38, “I’m their candidate.”
Jones lost to Rivera for the endorsement of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, a prominent progressive group started by LGBTQ activists, an unmistakable blow.
Yet he had $2.8 million in his war chest at the end of June, according to federal campaign finance records, more than double that of everyone else in the race. Analysts see many avenues for him to climb, including endorsements from newspaper editorial boards.
And Jones can benefit from his access to a potential Brooklyn lane, if he can captivate borough voters.
“There is only one progressive candidate in this race with a history of progressive results in the United States Congress,” he said.
Working Against It: Brooklyn is also home to a jumble of long shots and spoilers in the run, including Elizabeth Holtzman, an 80-year-old trailblazer who served in Congress from 1973 to 1981 and is trying again — with Gloria Steinem behind her.
Despite her advanced age and thin funding — she had about $100,000 in her campaign portfolio last month, ninth in the field, according to campaign finance records — Holtzman led Jones in a Data For Progress survey, getting 9% and ranking fourth. (Other polls have put it further behind.)
Holtzman, of Boerum Hill, said she doesn’t expect voters to make decisions based on “age, hair color, height, weight.”
“They’re going to vote, I believe, on who’s principled and who’s going to fight effectively,” said Holtzman, a former city comptroller and Brooklyn district attorney. “When people see my record and see my energy, they’ll know I’m going to fight for them.”
One of her Boerum Hill neighbours, MP Jo Anne Simon, is also trying to follow the race despite limited cash. Simon, a civil rights lawyer, has won endorsements from a handful of Brooklyn political clubs and is posing as a particularly approachable candidate.
“I’m a person people know long before I run for office,” said Simon, 69.
It’s unclear whether de Blasio’s exit will mark the race much after he failed to gain ground, or whether he will throw his weight – publicly or privately – behind another contender. He said on Tuesday it was “too early” to say whether he would offer an endorsement.
Camille Rivera, a progressive political strategist who lives in the district, predicted other long-term candidates would follow her lead in dropping out, as remaining hopefuls hit the hot summer pavement, knocking on doors, trying to coax every last vote.
“It becomes a more sensitive candidate field,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a game on the pitch.”