Normally I’d save this for tonight’s “live results” post but there’s so much schadenfreude here for righties to digest that we should start consuming it early, long before the polls close at 9 p.m. ET.
One nasty blue-on-blue race on Election Day would be entertaining. Two would be engrossing. But what if I told you that New York has three on the ballot?
And what if I further told you that none of those races is the most interesting one in the state to watch tonight?
Jim Newell has a solid explainer on the cause of Democratic misery. Simply put, the liberal state legislature got greedy with redistricting. They tried to redraw New York’s House districts so that there’d be 22 safe Democratic seats versus just four safe Republican ones. If that scheme had succeeded, tonight’s primaries would have been conducted on schedule in June and possibly every Democratic House incumbent would be on their way to another term in the House. But the redistricting map was too aggressive: A federal judge threw it out on grounds that it was an illegal partisan gerrymander and a special master appointed by the court redraw the map to make it more equitable. That forced the primaries to be postponed from June to tonight, a sleepy part of the summer in which fewer voters than usual are apt to turn out. And strange things can happen in low-turnout primaries.
It also forced Democratic incumbents to make hard choices about which of the newly redrawn districts to run in, which led to a game of political musical chairs. Jerry Nadler could have run in the new 10th District but instead chose to challenge his old friend and colleague, Carolyn Maloney, in the new 12th. They’re each in their mid-70s and have been in Congress for 30 years. One’s career will end tonight. Meanwhile, Sean Patrick Maloney opted to run in the new 17th District, which would have pitted him against progressive darling and local incumbent Mondaire Jones. Lefties were incensed since Maloney has the backing of establishment Democrats and just so happens to be the chairman of the DCCC this cycle, making him one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress. That forced Jones to make a hard choice about whether to challenge Maloney and probably lose or to run in the new 10th District, where there is no incumbent. He chose the latter, but is now facing a crowded field that includes Dan Goldman, the heir to the Levi Strauss family fortune.
If Goldman’s name sounds familiar to you, there’s a reason.
The first subplot, then, is whether progressives will have revenge on Sean Patrick Maloney for bigfooting Jones out of the 17th District. Maloney is being challenged by local lefty Alessandra Biaggi and the race has shaped up to be an enjoyable, if predictable, clash of progs versus establishmentarians. Maloney has been endorsed by Nancy Pelosi and the Clintons; Biaggi has been endorsed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Biaggi has sneered that Maloney is “a selfish corporate Democrat with no integrity” while Maloney has hammered Biaggi for being part of the Democrats’ “socialist wing” and has accused her of being “absolutely outside the mainstream.” Maloney will probably win — but then again, Joe Crowley was also supposed to win his primary against AOC a few years ago. Don’t underestimate motivated lefties in a Democratic primary.
The second subplot is the fate of Jones, who’s trying to hang onto his career in the new 10th but faces a heavy lift against Goldman and NYC Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou. Lefties will blow a gasket if Jones, having been muscled out of the 17th by Maloney, ends up being nuked by the mega-rich newcomer Goldman. Per Politico, Goldman has spent $4 million on the race, vastly more than his competition, and is a slight favorite thanks to the lefty vote splintering among multiple candidates. A young African-American first-term progressive House member being tossed out of Congress because an ambitious white corporate scion essentially decided to buy his seat is not a happy narrative for the Democratic Party. Goldman and his establishment supporters will be the subject of lefty grudges for years to come if he prevails.
Finally, there’s the clash of the titans in New York’s 12th, Nadler vs. Carolyn Maloney. I recommend Jim Geraghty’s post on that race as it does better than any other I’ve seen to capture the pathos of two seventysomething dinosaurs destroying their decades-long friendship in the interest of clinging to power for two more years, almost certainly as members of a rump Democratic minority. One might have assumed that two old pals and colleagues would at least have observed Queensbury rules when sparring against each other. One would be wrong.
— Daniel Marans (@danielmarans) August 23, 2022
According to CNN, “Maloney has told people privately that Nadler is ‘half dead’ and insinuated he won’t be healthy enough to finish another term if he wins, and people associated with her campaign have suggested that Nadler secretly briefly lost consciousness at a campaign stop last week.” Not to be outdone, “Nadler allies, meanwhile, have whispered reminders about Maloney’s long history of odd remarks and demeanor, which ranges from being called kooky to not entirely sober.” Geraghty runs through a surprisingly long list of nastiness between them during the primary campaign, with Nadler sporadically accusing Maloney of being soft on Iran and dependent on him for some of her legislative victories and Maloney accusing Nadler of being soft on sexual misconduct and a beneficiary of the “old boys’ club.”
One of them’s going home tonight for good. There might be tears. It’ll be hilarious.
As for the most important race on the ballot in New York, though, let’s save that for this evening’s “live results” post. Stay tuned.