What to watch for in New York’s Congressional primaries

What to watch for in New York’s Congressional primaries

New York voters are heading to the polls for a second time this summer on Tuesday when the state will hold its primary for congressional races and state senate. The primary was originally set for June, but a federal judge ordered it be delayed amid chaos surrounding the state’s redistricting.

In April, the state’s highest court threw out the congressional maps passed by the state legislature as a partisan gerrymander in a blow to House Democrats. It also ruled the state senate lines unconstitutional.

In the end, a court-appointed expert drew up the state’s congressional map that was less favorable to Democrats and set off a scramble with lawmakers playing musical chairs with where they would run for reelection. When the dust cleared, two longtime incumbents ended up facing off in one of the wealthiest districts in the country.

NY-12 (Manhattan, Upper East/West Side)

The new 12th congressional district encompasses much of Manhattan including both the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, pitting two long-time senior members of congress against one another. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, who currently represents the 10th District, is now running against House Oversight Committee Chairman Carolyn Maloney, who represents the 12th District, for the seat.

Over the years, both lawmakers’ districts have changed. The 10th District snaked through Manhattan and went deep into Brooklyn, while the 12th District had cut into Queens.

Both lawmakers entered Congress nearly 30 years ago and have been working alongside each other on a number of issues ever since. With similar voting records – candidates had to go back decades to highlight major differences on the campaign trail. In 1994, Maloney voted for a crime bill while Nadler voted against it. In 2001, Maloney voted for the invasion of Iraq; Nadler voted against it. More recently, Nadler supported the Iran nuclear deal while Maloney opposed it.

Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney and Suraj Patel.

David Dee Delgado/Getty Images, Spencer Platt/Getty Images, Washington Post/Getty Images

At the same time, a third candidate in the race, lawyer and businessman Suraj Patel has been running on the generational divide and the need for new leadership in Washington as Nadler and Maloney are both in their 70s. Patel challenged Maloney in the old 12th District in 2018 and 2020.

Earlier this month, Maloney made headlines during a debate when she said she does not believe President Joe Biden is running for reelection. She later apologized to Mr. Biden on CNN and said she wanted him to run again. But in an interview with The New York Times Editorial Board that occurred ahead of the debate but wasn’t published until afterward, Maloney said “off the record” Biden is not running, which the White House has consistently refuted. She has also been criticized for past skepticism about vaccines.

The latest poll by Emerson College on the race shows Nadler, who was recently endorsed by the New York Times and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, leading in the race with 43%. Maloney had 24%,Patel had 14% and 19% were undecided. The winner of the primary is expected to win in November in the safe Democratic seat.

NY-10 (Lower Manhattan, western Brooklyn)

Twelve Democratic candidates are vying for the seat in the newly-created 10th Congressional district which makes up lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. The diverse group of candidates include former federal prosecutor Dan Goldman, Rep. Mondaire Jones, who currently represents the state’s 17th Congressional district in the Hudson Valley, Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, former Congresswoman Elizabeth Hotlzman and Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon.

The latest poll by Emerson College has Goldman leading the crowded field with 22%. Niou has 17%, Rivera and Jones each have 13%, while 17% of Democratic primary voters according to the poll were undecided.

As crowded as the race is, it already lost a high-profile candidate: Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who lives in the Brooklyn part of the district, ended his candidacy in July, citing a lack of funding.

From left, Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, Rep. Mondaire Jones, Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, Elizabeth Holtzman, and Attorney Dan Goldman participate in New York’s 10th Congressional District Democratic primary debate hosted by Spectrum News NY1 and WNYC, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York.

Mary Altaffer / AP

Goldman was the lawyer for Democrats during the first impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump and the multimillionaire heir to Levi clothing company. He has been running a campaign on the idea that democracy is in jeopardy, touting his work to impeach Trump and highlighting his work as a federal prosecutor.

Jones, the only current member of Congress in the race, decided to move and run in the new 10th District after fellow Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the chair of the Democrats’ campaign arm, opted to run in his district. Maloney currently lives in the new version of the 17th and it overlaps with one-third of the version of the 18th District he currently represents. Jones was first elected in 2020 and is one of the first openly gay Black men in Congress. Jones is touting his record as a progressive in the race who delivered for New York during the pandemic.

Recently, he has also been leading the attacks against Goldman as a conservative with dangerous views on abortion and guns. In a debate earlier this month, Jones went after Goldman for Trump’s “endorsement” of him.

“It was horrifying that on our way to this very debate, Donald J. Trump endorsed Daniel Goldman, who is on this stage right now, in saying that he’s the best chance that we’ve got in this primary to defeat progressives like myself and others on this stage,” Jones said.

“We should know enough by now to know that we can’t take Donald Trump at his word, and that he likes to meddle in elections,” Goldman shot back. “The fact that my opponent seems to actually take him seriously just shows how little he knows Donald Trump.”

Earlier this month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed Jones for the seat.

Rivera, a councilwoman who represents parts of the Lower East Side, has been backed by Reps. Nydia Velázquez and Adriano Espaillat. She was boosted in the final week of the race by an ad buy from the “Nuestro PAC,” a Democratic group aimed at organizing Latino voters.

Rivera says abortion access, climate change and transportation infrastructure are top priorities, and has pitched herself to voters as an effective lawmaker.

“Going into a Congress where there could be a majority [GOP] control, I will tell you that I’m someone who considers myself very collaborative,” Rivera said. “There are many existential threats out there. And there’s a lack of faith in government right now. And we change that by delivering results.”

Niou currently represents parts of lower Manhattan in the New York Assembly.t. She’s been backed by the Working Families Party and was one of the most notable state Democratic critics of former Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo during allegations of sexual harrassment and misconduct.

Similar to the question in New York’s 12th District, candidates in the 10th have differed when asked if they believe Mr. Biden should run for re-election in 2024. While Goldman and Rivera told The New York Times “yes” when asked during candidate interviews, the remainder of the candidates have deferred, saying it’s Mr. Biden’s choice.

Rivera added in a phone call with CBS News that while she’s focused on her election, if Biden wants to run again, “that is his right.”

“I want to be supportive of our nominee and also cultivate great Democratic leaders and building a bench that is generational. That has more Latino representation,” she said. “If he wants to explore his re-election, I’m sure those are conversations that we’re going to have that I look forward to.”

NY-19 Special (Hudson Valley)

Democrat Pat Ryan and Republican Marcus Molinaro are competing to fill the vacant seat representing New York’s 19th District. Originally held by Democrat Antonio Delgado before his appointment as the state’s Lt. Gov., , the district is expected to be competitive. Mr. Biden only won the district in 2020 by a point and a half, and prior to Delgado’s victory there in 2018, Trump and GOP Rep. John Faso carried it in 2016.

Ryan, currently the Ulster County Executive, is actually running in two races at once – the 19th’s special election, held using New York’s old map, and the primary in the new 18th District. The candidate’s hometown shifted jurisdictions because of redistricting. Molinaro, the Dutchess County Executive, is competing for the 19th’s seat both in August’s special election and November’s general.

This race could be another harbinger for if the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade will dampen the “red wave” in any way. The last two House special elections in Republican-leaning districts have been closer than expected for the GOP: a 6 point win in Nebraska’s 1st, where Trump won by 15 points in 2020, and a 4 point win in Minnesota’s 1st where Trump won by 10 points.

Ryan put abortion front and center in his campaign ads, while Molinaro has been boosted by the Republicans’ congressional campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee, which has highlighted Ryan’s appearance at a Black Lives Matter rally in 2020 – although Molinaro was also at that rally. At a debate, Molinaro said he didn’t support a national abortion ban but did say states should decide.

The party committees know what this race could signal. With an unpopular Democratic president, Republicans are hoping to sweep into the majority in the House, winning both solid red districts and even Democratic-leaing ones like New York’s 19th District. National Republicans are hoping for a repeat of the special election in Texas’ 34th District, what was thought to be a solid Democratic district under a new congressional map but Republican Mayra Flores won a special election earlier this year.

The NRCC National Republican Congressional Committee and Molinaro campaign have spent close to $2 million combined on this race in the 19th District.

For Democrats, a Ryan win would show that abortion access is a top issue for voters, and that campaigns that make it front and center can win. Ryan and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have spent just over $767,000 on advertisements.

The last poll out on this race was an internal DCCC/Ryan poll, which showed him tied with Molinaro, with a 4.5% margin of error.

NY-17 (Rockland County, Putnam County)

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, chair of the House Democratic campaign arm, faced notable backlash after jumping into the new 17th District, currently represented by Jones. But after Jones decided to move to Brooklyn and to a crowded 10th District primary, Maloney got another notable Democratic challenger: State Senator Alessandra Biaggi.

The race has turned into a war between progressives (Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez backed Biaggi) and moderates (Maloney is backed by former President Bill Clinton and has often talked about winning in a Trump district). Like Niou, Biaggi was one of the first Democratic lawmakers in New York to call on Cuomo to resign after multiple allegations of sexual harrassment.

Alessandra Biaggi, Sean Patrick Maloney

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Maloney has far out-raised Biaggi ($4 million raised compared to $806,000 from Biaggi) and has benefitted from outside spending from the Police Benevolent Association (Biaggi had Tweeted in support of the ‘”Defund the Police” movement in the past). Internal polls for Biaggi’s campaign have shown her still trailing by 13 points.

The winner will still have a competitive race ahead in November– the district has a D+7 partisan rating. Five Republicans are running in the primary, Republican Assemblyman Mike Lawler has been leading the GOP fundraising field with over $519,000 raised.

Sarah Ewall-Wice

CBS News reporter covering economic policy.