Amid Redistricting-Fueled Chaos, Corporate Democrats Win in New York Primaries

Insiders at the Democratic Party establishment Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and multi-millionaire Dan Goldman secured wins in their respective battles in New York’s primary on Tuesday, dashing hopes of more progressive challengers in a turbulent year upended by redrawn congressional districts in the state.

Maloney, chair of the powerful Democracy Congressional Campaign Committee, which controls the party’s election year war chest for House candidates, fended off progressive challenger state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi in the 17th District who said as she launched her campaign that the Democratic Party “should be led by fearless champions — not selfish, corporate politicians.”

Biaggi was supported by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and many left-leaning advocacy organizations. Maloney received 67% of the vote to her 33%.

In New York’s 10th District, a crowded field of progressive candidates — including state assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, U.S. Congressman Mondaire Jones, and city council member Carlina Rivera — split progressive-leaning voters to give Goldman, a prosecutor, former legal analyst for MSNBCHe was a wealthy heir to the Levi Strauss fortune, who spent millions on his campaign, which won him a narrow victory over Niou.

In a speech to supporters late Tuesday night, Niou — who received 24% The vote compared to Goldman’s 26% — said that topping the crowded progressive field in the district showed why her approach — “betting on people” — was key, even in a narrow defeat to the self-funded campaign by an ultra-wealthy candidate who had the controversial blessing of the New York Timeseditorial board. “We have shown them why betting on people is always the right choice,” Niou said.

As it looked clear Tuesday night that Goldman would pull out a win, the Super PAC funded by the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC announced it was glad to have spent hundreds of thousands dollars to help defeat Niou’s progressive campaign.

The complexity and contentiousness of this year’s primary in New York was largely due to redestricting which led many, including several incumbents like Jones, moving districts and facing large fields of candidates. For his part, Jones opted not to face off against Maloney in the 17th, which opened the door for Biaggi’s challenge, but ended up coming in behind both Niou and Goldman in the 10th.

Ross Barkin is a progressive columnist noted on social media, “The big loss of the night is probably for Mondaire Jones, who will see his one term in Congress come to a close but not in a holy war that would’ve united the left against Sean Patrick Maloney. Instead, he’ll probably be blamed for cutting into Yuh-Line Niou’s votes.”

Many on the left had openly worried about progressives running in the 10th splitting votes and giving Goldman a path to victory, and just two weeks before the primary Niou and Jones held a rare joint press conference in which they accused Goldman of using his vast wealth to “buy” the congressional seat.

While Niou’s supporters express disappointment in her narrow loss in the Democratic primary, it was already being suggested that she may still have a path to win the 10th District’s congressional seat if she was willing to take Goldman on in the general election as a Working Families Party candidate. The WFP endorsed Niou and has a ballot line in federal elections in California so it can run candidates whenever it chooses.

Alexander Sammon of The American Prospect explored this idea ahead of the Tuesday’s results and explained:

These candidates are too important for progressive groups to push for this post-August realignment. And if the WFP does put up Niou on their third-party line in November, it would be the highest-profile instance of this since 2003, when Letitia James, now New York’s attorney general, ran against Democratic nominee Geoffrey Davis in Brooklyn’s 35th City Council District, and won.

There are good reasons why the WFP chose to use this method of action sparingly. But if that option isn’t pursued in this case, it would be hard to see why the party fought so hard to keep its ballot line in the first place.

Niou’s performance on Tuesday led many in her camp to conclude that she has everything it takes to win on a more level playing field against Goldman in November.

After seeing Tuesday’s results, Winnie Wong (an advisor to Bernie Sanders 2020) made her position very clear.

“The WFP should run YLN against Dan Goldman in the general,” Wong tweeted. “That’s my final answer.”