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Nadler cruises to primary victory, likely to remain dean of congressional Jewish caucus

Dan Goldman, wealthy prosecutor, wins over crowded field including pro-BDS candidate

Longtime Jewish Congressman Jerry Nadler won a resounding primary victory Tuesday night for a likely 16th term in Washington, while Dan Goldman, who prosecuted President Donald Trump’s first impeachment, eked out a win over a crowded field in his first bid for elective office. Both New York districts are overwhelmingly Democratic, making it virtually guaranteed that the city will double the number of Jewish members of its House delegation after the November general elections.

The rare August primary came three months after court-ordered redistricting sent New York politics into chaos, and spells the end of a 30-year career in Washington of Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a pro-Israel stalwart and chair of the influential House Oversight Committee. She had campaigned heavily on women’s issues in the wake of the Supreme Court decision ending the constitutional right to abortion access.

Nadler, who heads the Judiciary Committee, had played up his status as the senior leader of the Congress’s informal Jewish caucus, and was buoyed in the campaign’s final days by endorsements from both The New York Times and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. What at one point had seemed like a tight three-way battle ended up a rout: With 95% of the votes counted in the new district that combined Manhattan’s Upper West and Upper East sides, Nadler had 55% to Maloney’s 24%. A third candidate, Suraj Patel, grabbed 19%.

“I’m a New Yorker, and we New Yorkers just don’t know how to surrender,” Nadler said in a victory speech Tuesday night at the Arte Cafe on the Upper West Side, where supporters had chanted “Jer-ry, Jer-ry” after NY 1 called the race for him shortly after the polls closed at 9 p.m.

“I’m so proud of tonight’s victory, and I’m thrilled that we were able to win while remaining committed to our principles of kindness and progressivism,” he said. “Thank you all for shouting my name roughly 10,000 times each over the past three months.”

Goldman declares victory in crowded primary for Manhattan-Brooklyn seat

In Nadler’s former district, NY-10, which now encompasses the heavily Jewish Brooklyn neighborhoods of Borough Park and Park Slope and a swath of Lower Manhattan, Goldman won with 26% of the vote over State Rep. Yuh-Line Niou, who had 24% after 95% of the votes were tallied. U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones, who had moved to the district from Westchester County after the maps were redrawn, came in third with 18%.

Goldman, the heir to the Levi Strauss fortune, had loaned his campaign $4 million, stressed his Jewish identity and pro-Israel credentials, and courted Hasidic leaders and voters, while Niou was the only candidate of the dozen on the ballot who supported for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. AIPAC’s SuperPAC put out a statement saying it was proud to have played a role in defeating Niou — by contributing $350,000 to a local Super PAC opposing Niou — and looked forward to working with Goldman in Washington.

Goldman, who was also endorsed by the Times, said late Tuesday: “This has been an inspiring and humbling experience as a first-time candidate and to stand in front of you here today as your Democratic nominee for Congress.”

Following his remarks, Goldman told the Forward that his “Jewish faith and values” inspired him to dedicate his career to public service, “and I look forward to joining Congressman Nadler in Congress to represent the Jewish community in the city and country.”

Goldman closed the final day of campaigning in Brooklyn greeting Orthodox voters outside the Shomrei Shabbos synagogue in Borough Park. “I am very eager to be a strong representative for the entire community in Congress,” he said after canvassing for about 30 minutes, alongside Assemblymember Simcha Eichenstein; longtime community leader Rabbi Berish Freilich; and Ben Barber, a businessman representing the Bobov-45 Hasidic sect in Brooklyn.

Goldman received at least 1,000 votes in the Orthodox-populated neighborhoods, according to unofficial election day results.

Brining it home

Nadler was composed and humble in his speech to an insider crowd of former staffers, longtime colleagues and Jewish leaders, who were jubilant as they sipped white wine. It had been a surprisingly easy victory after a surprisingly bitter race, the first time in years where anyone seriously considered Nadler might be leaving Capitol Hill.

In an interview Monday while canvassing outside the Fairway supermarket in his Upper West Side neighborhood, Nadler said he had no regrets about taking on a longtime colleague rather than run again in his old district, and he repeated that in his speech on Tuesday night.

“This place is my home — I have lived here for nearly my whole life,” he said. “I love the people of this community and what they represent.  Why would I want to be any place else?”

The district includes a significant number of Jewish voters — about 30% of the electorate in the Democratic primary, according to data analyzed by Prime New York, a consulting firm, for the Jewish Community Relations Council. Nadler said “a number of people” have told him that they voted for him because they felt it was important to preserve Jewish representation from New York City in Congress, after the 2020 defeats of Eliot Engel and Max Rose and the retirement of Rep. Nita Lowey.

And Nadler said that as the dean of the House Jewish Caucus, he puts ”a lot of effort” into strengthening support for Israel among his colleagues — and that he has been able to change some opinions. “I would certainly never say that a non-Jew cannot represent Jewish interests,” he said. “But some people think it’s important.”

Ruth Messinger, the former Manhattan borough president and major Nadler supporter, said Tuesday night that Nadler’s Jewishness is “significant.”

“If you’ve been around as long as I have, there was a time where essentially the entire New York congressional delegation was Jewish and that did not reflect the diversity of growing New York, so we needed African American and Latino and Asian representation,” Messinger said. But New York has “the largest Jewish population anyplace outside of Israel,” she noted, so the idea of a delegation without a Jewish member was troubling.

“We are sending back to Congress, I’m happy to say, somebody Jewish, Jewishly knowledgeable, hugely progressive and hugely pro-Israel,” Messinger continued. “That’s what the country needs.”

In the interview as in the campaign, Nadler highlighted the few issues on which he differs with Maloney – such as his support for the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which she opposed — saying these made him uniquely fit to represent the redrawn district.

“This is a very liberal district,” he said. “I have made the case that I’ve been a principled progressive, and I think people appreciate that.”

Julie Rothwax, who worked with the campaign, said her mother voted for Nadler even though she is more conservative on many policy issues, and did not like the congressman’s Iran vote — because she could not fathom losing possibly New York’s last Jewish House member. “She’s like, ‘Why are we the only community that doesn’t say we should have a representative?'” Rothwax said. “Why not embrace it and why pretend it’s not important.”

In his speech Tuesday night, Nadler praised Patel as “an exceptionally bright and committed young leader,” and thanked Maloney for her “decades of service to our city.”

“I’m humbled that so many New Yorkers found themselves moved by our shared belief in principled progressivism, and that I will return to Congress with a mandate to fight for the causes so many of us know to be right,” he added.

On Monday, as he was greeting shoppers outside Fairway, Nadler credited the Times endorsement for helping to sway undecided voters. “If there is any district in the country where The New York Times is more important, it is this district,” he said. 

State Sen. Brad Hoylman, who joined the congressman in the final hours of the campaign, called Nadler a “mensch” who has “demonstrated to New Yorkers that he’s the right person for the job.”

And Nadler, who is 75, was already looking ahead to a possibly 17th term.  “Why would I run if I didn’t plan on continuing and running again in two years?” he asked.

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