Nadler campaign: Defeat of ‘most senior’ Jewish House member will have ‘national implications’
The campaign of Jerry Nadler has, in recent weeks, moved to invoke his Jewish faith as a key theme to rally his base in a tough reelection bid. This year’s redistricting has pitted the incumbent Democrat against another veteran colleague, Carolyn Maloney, in the Aug. 23 primary for the redrawn 12th District, which stretches from Upper Manhattan into parts of Brooklyn and Queens.
“Jerry Nadler being the last remaining member of Congress from New York City isn’t just a matter of concern to New York’s Jewish community; it has national implications,” Julian Gerson, the co-manager of Nadler’s campaign wrote in an email to Jewish supporters Tuesday.
Nadler was one of eight Jews in New York City’s delegation when he was first elected to Congress in 1992. Now, after the 2020 defeats of Reps. Eliot Engel and Max Rose, and the retirement of Nita Lowey, Nadler is the only one remaining. The New York Times recently published a lengthy article about Nadler and his supporters using the issue to caution voters about leaving the most Jewish city in the country without any Jewish representation in the House. (Sen. Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, is a member of the tribe.)
The Nadler campaign official noted that Nadler is not only a senior Jewish member of Congress and chair of the influential House Judiciary Committee, but also the dean of the House’s informal Jewish Caucus who “uses these two important roles to get results for us” and is “leading the battle to stem the dramatic uptick in antisemitism and domestic terrorism.”
On Monday, the Nadler campaign rolled out the endorsements of two progressive Jewish supporters, New York City Comptroller Brad Lander and his predecessor Scott Stringer, who succeeded Nadler in the New York State Assembly.
Lander, who became the highest-ranking Jewish citywide official when he took office on Jan. 1., described Nadler as a “one-of-a-kind” person who “embodies the Jewish tradition of tikkun olam.”
The campaign also highlighted Nadler’s pro-Israel record, although he voted in favor of the Iran nuclear deal in 2015 while Maloney, a Presbyterian, opposed it. She also backed the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, while Nadler cautioned that the timing would complicate peace efforts.
“Jerry embodies the idea that one can absolutely be pro-Israel and progressive simultaneously,” Gerson wrote. Rep. Ted Deutch from Florida, who is retiring to lead the American Jewish Committee, told the Times that “no one doubts Jerry’s progressive bona fides and no one doubts his commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
Maloney accused Nadler of using his Jewishness as a “divisive tactic” in the primary.
Surja Patel, a Democrat and self-described “pragmatic progressive” who initially announced a run against Maloney for the third time, said in an interview that his pitch to Jewish voters who had supported Nadler and Maloney in the past is that he is “better positioned to maintain the sacrosanct and bipartisan nature” of the U.S.-Israel alliance because of the generational differences. Patel, 38, suggested that Jewish residents will have in him “an ardent supporter of the U.S.-Israel relationship” for the coming decades and that he is able to make the case forcefully to the next generation of Democratic officeholders and voters.
A recent poll showed Maloney with an early 10-point lead over Nadler. An internal poll shared by the Patel campaign earlier this month showed Nadler with a razor-thin 2-point lead over Maloney. But the poll also indicated that voters may be confused about the choice they have. A third of respondents said they want to see both Nadler and Maloney win reelection, while a smaller cohort of voters — 12% and 13% respectively — preferred one over the other.
Nadler and Maloney campaigned together Tuesday morning outside the 86th Street station on the Upper East Side with Gov. Kathy Hochul, who is running for reelection in the Democratic primary.