A prominent congressional candidate has denounced sexist efforts to push her out of the race. Her strongest rival played the religion card. And it was in the first two days of the campaign between two fellow Democrats who claim to be friends and who served together for three decades. But that’s what happens when last-minute court rulings and a “special master” tear down the lines of New York’s congressional district and ignite an intramural war. Two of the city’s political hobbyhorses, Caroline Maloney and Jerry Nadler, are now opposed to each other. “It is what it is,” Maloney tells me. “I’m going to give him everything I have.”
It’s hard to overstate the rarity of such a match. Both parties are generally very good at preventing such self-defeating confrontations, especially between long-term incumbents — and Maloney and Nadler have been in power for nearly 60 years, the lifetimes of millions of New York voters. A bitter showdown in California in 2012 between Howard Berman and Brad Sherman approximate. “Well, in 1972, Bella Abzug ran into William Fitt Ryan. They were both holders, ”explains Bruce Gyory, a New York Democratic strategist familiar with the story, looking for a parallel. “But nothing like what’s happening now.”
Nadler, 74, has been in Congress since late 1992, representing a district across Central Park, running north to south along the Upper West Side and into part of Brooklyn. Maloney, 76, has been in Congress since 1993, representing a district running north to south and covering the Upper East Side, as well as part of Queens. Then, last week, a state court-appointed political science postdoctoral fellow swept through decades of the city’s political geography and culture, charting a new uptown neighborhood that stretches east to west, crushing much of Maloney and Nadler territory.
The redistricting chaos is spreading in multiple directions. “A single decision to divide Manhattan north-south instead of east-west caused severe collateral damage to all surrounding neighborhoods of color, from Brooklyn to Queens to the Bronx,” the congressman said. Hakeem Jeffries. “Was it intentional? I am not sure. But that was the effect. There are also Democratic talks about pushing the congressman Sean Patrick Maloney quit as head of the party’s House Campaign Committee, and there’s a new seat covering parts of Brooklyn and lower Manhattan that’s sparked a rush of suitors, including the former mayor Bill de Blasio and current Upstate Congressman Mondary Jones, who is moving south after being kicked out of his district by Maloney. “We just saw a Republican-appointed special master destroy communities of interest across New York State and present a map clearly intended to reduce the number of New York Democrats in Congress and diminish black political power. in the state,” Jones tells me. . “I’ve fought my whole life. And I won’t let a Republican judge stop me from being the progressive champion I’ve been in Congress and that New York’s 10th District deserves.
The marquee match, however, takes place in upper Manhattan’s reconfigured 12th Ward. Nadler could have chosen to avoid collision with Maloney: the new map moved much of his old district into the new 10th district, ranging from the East and West Villages to Brooklyn. “Other than a few random people, he would have had no opposition!” said an ally of Maloney. Maloney herself says she was “disappointed” – not just by Nadler’s choice to hire her, but that he didn’t bother to let her know his decision beforehand. “We have been friends and colleagues working together,” she tells me. “But he didn’t show me that consideration or that respect.”
“That’s nonsense,” Nadler said. “When the lines came out, I looked for her on the floor of the house and said, ‘It’s the lines. I’m going to run in 12th and I think you should run in 10th. She replied, “Absolutely not.” I’ve lived in the northern part of the 12th Ward for, what, 50 years, and the Upper West Side is my base. Maloney says she hasn’t considered retiring or changing districts, in part because too many accomplished women “have been asked to steer clear for the sake of men’s egos,” and partly because of the larger context. “I am very concerned about inversions for women. The so-called Supreme Court could issue a decision—I’m told next week—that will deprive women of the ability to make their own health care decisions, including reproductive health care. There is no democracy if women cannot make decisions about their own bodies.
Maloney will focus on tangible accomplishments: she lists a list that includes helping secure funding for the construction of the Second Avenue subway and her role in the long and successful battle to provide health care to first responders of September 11. Nadler can also point to bills passed, but his campaign will likely rely more on liberal and cultural credibility. Last weekend, at a breakfast before the Celebrate Israel Parade, the congressman bragged that he was the only Jewish member of the New York delegation. “I stood up for democracy and led Trump’s impeachment twice,” Nadler said. “I am a principled progressive who took tough votes when necessary. I voted against the war in Iraq. I voted against the Patriot Act, even though 9/11 happened in my district. I voted for the agreement with Iran. Carolyn voted the other way for each of them. A Nadler insider worries less about the contrasting issues and more about the congressman’s campaign machinery being a little rusty. “Jerry hasn’t needed a full political operation for a campaign since 2016,” the agent says. “Carolyn has had to go the distance many times, so her on-court operation is a muscle that has been exercised more recently.”
Indeed, two years ago, Maloney overtook Suraj Patel, lawyer and businessman, less than four points in the Democratic primary. Patel, 38, is also in the 2022 squad, providing a younger, outsider alternative to Maloney and Nadler. The August 23 primary will likely be very low turnout, so an effective operation on the ground will be crucial, more important than which candidate knows the other side of town best – although Maloney is launching a “listening tour” of the West Side to make sure she becomes best known on Riverside Drive and at Barney Greengrass. “Actually, I had lunch there recently,” she says happily. “It’s a great place.” Culinary opportunities aside, however, Maloney’s West Side-bound electoral destiny is no small feat. She was first elected to Congress in 1992 through a redistricting, ousting Bill Greena seven-term Republican whose East Side district had been redrawn to include more Democratic voters, some of them living in a particular L-shaped slice of the 90s West. Thirty years later , the redistricting could end the long political career of either Maloney or Nadler, or possibly both.