Congressmembers Maloney, Nadler enter endorsement turf war

Maloney Nadler
Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler at a 2015 press conference.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s office

The endorsement wars of New York Congressional District 12 are raging. 

Over the past week, Congress members Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney have trotted out supporters to try and demonstrate their strategic advantage over one another. 

Last Thursday, Nadler announced that he received the endorsement of the 1199SEIU, a powerful health care workers union with its finger on the pulse of New York state politics. This week, Maloney announced an endorsement from the Hell’s Kitchen Democratic Club, a political group within the boundaries of Nadler’s own district. 

“I am thrilled and grateful for my growing support on the West Side for my reelection,” Maloney said in a press release dedicated to her recent triumph.

While Maloney’s announcement shows momentum among a subsection of Nadler’s constituents, Nadler’s latest labor endorsement, as City and State reported, is a demonstration of organizing muster. The union support is likely to entail both donation volunteers who can canvass and phone bank for Nadler.

His endorsement by the Working Families Party will also help command volunteer support for his campaign, and helps him make a case as the more progressive choice in the race. In recent weeks, Nadler has welcomed support from other left-leaning city officials like current and former comptrollers Brad Lander and Scott Stringer as well as state legislators like Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal.

Nadler is not alone in his large-scale labor support though or his claim to be the progressive in the race. As far as union support, Maloney’s campaign has landed the endorsement of the greater NYC Building & Construction Trades Council, an umbrella organization of construction workers representing 100,000 members in the greater city area, among over a dozen others.

There’s still time for the two legislators to court more unions, but notably other powerful labor organizations like the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO have so far sat this Congressional race out in announcing their slate of endorsements for the August primary.

Maloney has leaned in her position as the only female candidate in the race as Ashmi Sheth, a left-leaning insurgent candidate, quietly ended her bid for the seat recently. That messaging as a feminist reproductive health advocate helped to sway the Hell’s Kitchen Democratic Club to back her for the newly formed Congressional district.

“The consensus was that particularly now with the attack on reproductive rights and the rolling back of Roe v. Wade, the very clear signaling that LGBTQ+ rights and marriage equality are next: Carolyn was the person that we wanted to take into that fight,” club President Christine Gorman told amNY and the Villager.

Gorman said that the club had previously endorsed both candidates before their districts were combined in the state’s May redistricting turmoil. She couldn’t say for sure whether the club’s decision is indicative of deeper West Side support for Maloney but added “[Maloney’s] very energetic. She’s certainly making inroads.”

The club’s final vote was 57 percent for Maloney and 43 percent for Nadler. The result of this ranked-choice process isn’t just a symbolic blow to Nadler but to insurgent candidate Suraj Patel, who Gorman said did not receive a single first-choice vote.

Patel’s endorsement trove is considerably lighter than his two 30-year incumbent opponents, but he has picked up the support of at least one younger eco-minded political club that meets in Central Park South, The New Leaf Democrats.

The rest of Patel’s endorsers form an eclectic group gravitating around his “pragmatic progressive” style of politics, which includes environmental activist and attorney Steven Donziger, former presidential and New York City Mayoral candidate Yang and Alan Cummings, the Scottish actor known for “Goldeneye” and “The Good Wife.”