Rivera and Holtzman made it clear that their event was aimed at primary favorite, former federal prosecutor Dan Goldman. But as Goldman clings to a lead in some of the race’s limited polls, each of the women vying against him still presents herself as the natural candidate for progressives to rally around.
Even as the left complains about Goldman’s elite background, Democrats privately acknowledge that liberal votes are splintered in the newly created 10th District, which stretches from lower Manhattan to parts of Brooklyn. After recent successes united around an insurgent challenger in the Democratic primaries, progressives may see their field’s ambition hampering a prime opportunity to claim a congressional seat in a liberal stronghold.
“I believe progressives need to consolidate,” said New York State Congresswoman Yuh-Line Niou, the third major candidate in Tuesday’s primary.
“And I believe based on the ground game, the coalition that we have … and based on the polls, that ours is the campaign to consolidate around,” she added.
Niou hosted his own press event on the Buddy System this week with another top prospect in the 10th, Rep. Mondaire Jones. The duo teamed up to accuse Goldman, who self-funded much of their campaign, of trying to buy the seat. And just as Rivera and Holtzman did days later, neither candidate told voters which one to choose.
The idea behind the event originated from the Jones campaign, Niou explained in an interview. He wanted to highlight the influence of Goldman’s war chest on the race – its spending has eclipsed that of its four main rivals – and why it could be “dangerous to have essentially this type of representation”, said Niou, in the midst of an “affordability crisis”. and rising inflation.
Rivera ultimately skipped that event, telling POLITICO she told Jones about it “briefly when it was sort of in the works.” She and Niou have been touting endorsements from top New York City officials in recent days as they try to shore up support ahead of the primary. State Senator Jessica Ramos, who once housed with Niou and fellow progressive-turned-Congress hopeful Alessandra Biaggi, Rivera endorsed Thursday.
Last-ditch efforts to stop Goldman have managed to mask many of the issues that progressives in the 10th District Primary agree on. Instead, they spent a lot of time trying to paint Goldman as a centrist for supporting a so-called public health insurance option instead of Medicare for All, a position similar to that of President Joe Biden during the 2020 campaign.
Goldman, who rose to prominence as an attorney during Donald Trump’s first impeachment by House Democrats, has flooded the district with millions of dollars in advertising and direct mail. He invested nearly $2 million of his own fortune in the running, according to FEC filings, and cemented its front-runner status by earning an endorsement from The New York Times.
He dismissed criticism of his wealth and self-funding in an interview.
“Look, everyone comes into this race with different advantages,” Goldman said, citing the Congressional campaign briefing Jones brought after moving to a district 30 miles south of his current seat following of redistricting. “But in a very short race like this, I thought it was much more important to talk to voters rather than donors. And so, I put some of my money.
Goldman’s rivals proved unable to match his spending. While some House Democratic leaders — as well as the Black Caucus PAC and the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ PAC — lined up behind Jones, who started the race with nearly $3 million amassed over his current term in Congress, they have so far not moved the needle for him.
Outside groups like the Working Families Party, which backed Niou, were also unable to keep pace with Goldman’s fundraising campaign.
The presence of three powerful progressive women in the field exerts its own strength on the primary, presenting a tricky choice for other influential liberals, some of whom have ties to multiple candidates. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.), for example, endorsed Jones in her first congressional bid and Niou in her Assembly bid, but stayed out of the race.
A potential wrinkle in the final days of the race: Trump. Even if the former president obtained only 14% of the votes in the neighborhood in 2020, he featured prominently in the Wednesday night candidates’ debate. Hours earlier, Trump posted an “endorsement” of Goldman on his Truth Social platform, which Jones and other Democrats seized on as a swipe at Goldman’s liberal credentials.
But as the former president makes headlines through the revelations produced by the Jan. 6 select committee and the recent FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago, among many other investigations, Goldman may be able to use the moment to his advantage. His tweeted response to Trump’s ‘endorsement’ garnered a broad response on social media, and he’s willing to bet that in this political moment, the Democratic base wants a candidate with his background.
“We need people in Congress who have been in the trenches to stand up to Donald Trump and, just as importantly, the Republican Party in the House which he completely controls,” Goldman said. “And that’s why my candidacy, at least in part, really resonated with a lot of voters.”