New York primaries reflect major choices facing voters nationwide
In a key congressional race in New York, Jerry Nadler (second from left) has a substantial lead in polls over Carolyn Maloney (left) and Suraj Patel (right). | Mary Altaffer/AP

NEW YORK –  Voting in New York’s congressional party primaries, will establish final lists of choices in highly competitive races in the general election this November.

Voters are also picking new members of Congress in two special elections to replace U.S. House members who have resigned.

The primary elections in New York here will show the outlines of the positions that will be taken by the Democrats and Republicans in November. Indications are that some, but not all Republicans in New York will try to run away from some of the extreme right-wing positions taken by many other Republicans across the country.

The Supreme Court’s ruling attacking the right of women to control their own bodies is very much a central issue in the special election in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills. In that region, Ulster County Executive Patrick Ryan, a Democrat, has campaigned on a promise to protect abortion access while Republican Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, has tried to ignore that issue which hangs like an albatross around the neck of New York Republicans. He is trying to divert attention away from issues of abortion rights and protection of democracy and turn attention instead to inflation, gasoline prices, and alleged Democratic responsibility for rampant crime.

Ryan and Molinaro both want to fill the seat formerly held by Antonio Delgado, the Democrat who resigned to become New York’s lieutenant governor this summer.

In western New York state, Democrat Max Della Pia faces Republican Joseph Sempolinski in a race to serve out the remainder of the term of former U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, a Republican who resigned this summer.

Meanwhile, in New York City we see perhaps one of the most closely watched races in the Democratic primary featuring a contest between two powerful incumbents, thrown into a race against one another when a judge in New York redrew the boundaries of the state’s congressional districts.

U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney face each other, plus newcomer Suraj Patel, a Democrat who has run for the office twice before.

Polls show that Nadler, who has been heavily outspent by Maloney, is leading in that race which, regardless of outcome, could end up costing the Democrats at least one seat in the now closely divided House.

And in western New York, the chairman of the state Republican Party, Nick Langworthy, is in a tough primary fight with Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino, who was once the party’s candidate for governor but has a record of making outrageous comments and racist remarks, Paladino, an extreme right winger, has the backing of former President Trump.

The Nadler and Maloney districts were redrawn and partially combined, but negotiations failed to motivate one of the two influential committee leaders to run for a different seat. So Mr. Nadler chose to not seek re-election in the 10th District and entered the primary for Ms. Maloney’s seat.

A third candidate in the race, Suraj Patel, has painted himself as the face of youth, challenging two candidates in their seventies. At 38, Patel helped run his family’s successful motel business.

Patel has challenged Maloney twice before, coming close to victory in 2020 when he lost by only four percentage points. But drawing distinct ideological differences between himself and both Maloney and Nadler has not been easy, with all of them taking progressive positions on at least domestic issues. Maloney has been a strong supporter of the Israel lobby but Nadler, who also strongly backs Israel, has been criticized for what has been seen as his occasional verbal support for Palestinian rights. Agreeing with one another on their liberal credentials, however, they have argued against a vote for Patel by indicating the benefits of their seniority to their constituents.

The redistricting and Nadler’s and Maloney’s decision to run in the same district created an open seat in the 10th District, covering parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Among the entrants to the race for that seat is Rep. Mondaire Jones, who currently represents a district in Rockland County and parts of Westchester; and Elizabeth Holtzman, once the youngest woman ever elected to the House of Representatives who,  now at the age of 81, would become the oldest non-incumbent elected to Congress.

Daniel Goldman, who made a name for himself in the impeachment trial of former president Donald J. Trump, has never held elective office, but has enormous wealth and recently gave his own campaign $1 million.

Recently surging in the race, however, are two women of color, Councilwoman Carlina Rivera and Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou. Both already represent parts of the district in their current positions.

Ms. Rivera has backing from the real estate industry on the one hand and, unions and progressive members of Brooklyn’s Democratic Party on the other. She has called herself a “pragmatic progressive.” Ms. Niou has taken positions further to the left and has the support of the Working Families Party.

Voter turnout will be a big factor in all the New York races.

There has never been a primary in New York in the heat of August and that can drive down voter turnout.

In the Republican primary in the 23rd CD, the right winger Paladino has the support of Elise Stefanic, the number three Republican in the House. This is despite his comments praising Adolf Hitler as the “kind of leader we need today” and his description of Michelle Obama as a “gorilla.”

The GOP primary in that district reflects the choices Republicans give members of their party.  Both candidates are MAGA Republicans, one with only a slight veneer of respectability and the other a downright open fascist.

In the newly shaped 17th Congressional District, Sean Patrick Maloney, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is fielding a challenge from the left by Alessandra Biaggi, a state senator, in a fight between the party’s moderate and left wings.

Mr. Maloney drew heavy criticism after the districts were redrawn and he chose to run in a potentially safer district that was held by Mr. Jones, who in 2020 became one of the first Black, openly gay men elected to Congress.

Mr. Maloney’s decision drew complaints that he was putting his own re-election interests before that of the party’s by choosing the moderately safer seat. Mr. Jones then moved 20 miles away to the new 10th Congressional District in Manhattan, rather than challenge Representative Jamaal Bowman, a leading progressive Black Democrat in a neighboring district.

Ms. Biaggi was endorsed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; Mr. Maloney has been endorsed by former president Bill Clinton.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.