A New York Times endorsement reshapes one of the most competitive primaries in New York City’s new congressional district, catapulting ex-prosecutor and Democratic candidate Dan Goldman to front-runner status and intensifying rival campaign attacks as the race enters the home front.
Many political pundits had predicted that an endorsement from the Times would play an outrageous role in this year’s unseasonably timed primary. The 10th congressional district is New York’s busiest contest with 12 candidates vying for lower Manhattan and parts of northwest Brooklyn – an area densely populated with Times subscribers.
Now the test is whether the approval – which was published on Saturday, the first day of the early voting – will have enough impact to take a candidate to the finish line.
Neal Kwatra, a Democratic political strategist, said the likely low turnout plus Goldman’s move to pump his personal wealth into his campaign “probably has the strongest closing hand.”
The Times endorsement is an unexpected coup for Goldman, who never held elected office but became widely known after serving as lead attorney for House Democrats during the first impeachment hearing for then-President Donald Trump and, later, his work as MSNBC expert. Polls have suggested the race between Goldman and three other candidates is close: state assembly member Yuh-line Niou, city council member Carlina Rivera and representative Mondaire Jones, who currently represents another district.
Goldman, the richest of the leading candidates, has contributed at least $2 million to his campaign so far. He has outperformed his rivals in paid mailings and tv adsthe most recent touting the coveted endorsement.
Political observers had predicted that the approval — one of the few from the local media — would have a particularly big impact on voters, a fraction of whom are expected to run for the city’s second primary in as many months. But interviews with several West Village voters outside of an early voting poll site revealed that they were not unanimously convinced.
“I liked that The New York Times supported him,” said Abbie Wazlawek, a 36-year-old West Village resident who cast her vote for Goldman.
Wazlawek, who referred to a piece of paper to recall Goldman’s name, said she hadn’t had enough time to research all the candidates, but said Times editors had given her additional clarity about the race.
“It’s pretty frustrating to figure out how to vote and who to vote for,” she said. “I understand why people don’t do it.”
But other voters said the Times’ endorsement didn’t affect their vote. Sarah Gordon said she voted for Rivera after long conversations with her relatives.
She said she was concerned about Goldman’s comments about abortion to a conservative Jewish outlet, Hamodia. Goldman, who appeared to be open to certain limits on late-stage pregnancies during the interview, later retracted his comments. “I unequivocally support a woman’s right to choose,” he said.
Nevertheless, the comments stuck in Gordon’s head: “I still felt more compelled to vote not for him,” she said.
Kristen Bebelaar said she voted for Jones after doing “quite a bit of research” on the candidates. She had also read the Times endorsement.
“I was actually a bit shocked,” she said. “I was a little surprised that they didn’t think more about the importance of diversity.”
Nathaniel Beck admitted that he was not very familiar with the local candidates, despite being a professor of political science at NYU.
Beck, 75, said he would normally have opted for the Times’ endorsement, but instead he followed the advice of his wife and daughter, who told him to vote for Jones.
When asked why, he replied, “household peace.”
A surprising choice
In addition to the race with Goldman, the Times weighed in on two other Democratic congressional primaries: The paper chose Jerrold Nadler, a sitting congressman who has represented the Upper West Side in Congress for decades, and Sean Patrick Maloney, a Hudson Valley high-ranking officer. congressman who decided to walk in the district currently represented by Jones after the maps were redrawn.
But it was the approval in the 10th congressional district primary that held the most tension among political viewers due to the number of candidates and the fact that it was a “new” district without an incumbent official.
Chris Coffey, a Democratic political strategist who worked on Andrew Yang’s mayoral campaign in last year’s primary, said he learned about the Times pick from a text message he received from an elected official while driving his car.
The person typed only one word: “Dan.”
Many political observers found the choice surprising, in part because the newspaper endorsed Nadler and Maloney, two other white men.