For months, there was no clear front-runner for the Democratic primary to represent the Tenth District spanning lower Manhattan and brownstone Brooklyn — even Bill de Blasio flirted with a lead before dropping out in July. For much of the election, the race has been a dead heat between the top four candidates in the crowded field.
But there was a giant shakeup last weekend, on the first day of early voting, when the New York Times editorial board released its long-awaited endorsement. It threw its support behind Dan Goldman, the former federal prosecutor who served as lead counsel during the first impeachment of Donald Trump, making him a household name among liberals — along with his stint as a legal pundit on MSNBC. The Times wrote that Goldman’s “uncommon experience, particularly his knowledge of congressional oversight and the rule of law, could prove especially valuable in Congress in coming years.” The Times was criticized for selecting Goldman, who is new to politics, over more experienced lawmakers and for choosing a white man out of a very diverse field of candidates that included multiple women and people of color. The endorsement came on top of Goldman’s significant advertising advantage, which was boosted, in part, by his own campaign contributions from his personal wealth as an heir to the Levi Strauss & Co. fortune.
By last Monday, the race seemed to have shifted in favor of Goldman. A PIX 11/Emerson College poll showed him with 22 percent support, followed by State Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou with 17 percent. City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera and Representative Mondaire Jones (who switched districts following redistricting) were next, tied at 13 percent. Jones, Niou, and Rivera all still have a chance to pull off a win, in other words. All the other candidates polled in the single digits, with 17 percent of voters saying they were still undecided ahead of Election Day on August 23.
That same day, Niou and Jones held a joint press conference outside City Hall alongside staffers who held up signs that read “NYC Is Not for Sale” and “Anyone but Goldman.”
“He cannot be allowed to purchase this congressional seat,” Jones said at the event, describing Goldman as a “conservative Democrat” whose views are out of alignment with that of the district’s voters. (Goldman supports expanding the current health-care system and not Medicare for All, and had to reemphasize his support for abortion rights after a response he gave on restrictions to Hamodia, an Orthodox outlet.) Niou also took a shot at Goldman’s wealth, alluding to reports that he spent the early months of the pandemic at a second home in the Hamptons. “When our communities were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, I joined with local leaders to ensure our elders were fed and that marginalized New Yorkers had equal access to PPE and vaccines. My constituents didn’t get to take a vacation, I didn’t take a vacation and we got through it together,” she said.
In a bizarre twist, Goldman got another endorsement last week — from Trump — calling him, “honorable, fair, and highly intelligent.” Many saw the move as an insincere attempt to get involved in the race against Goldman. Several of Goldman’s opponents, like Niou and Jones, jumped at the opportunity to leverage the dubious endorsement, taking to social media to share Trump’s message as what they said was proof that Goldman shouldn’t be supported. “We should know enough by now to know that we can’t take Donald Trump at his word and that he likes to meddle in elections,” Goldman said during the PIX11 debate held Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, progressives are pushing to coalesce support behind a single candidate over concerns that Goldman will win against a divided field. City Councilmembers Tiffany Cabán and Shahana Hanif endorsed Niou over their colleague Rivera, with both women alluding to the need to unify and stop Goldman. Hanif said that she felt compelled to weigh in on the race following the Times’ endorsement of Goldman.
“We need a champion for Medicare for All. We need a champion for choice and someone who’s gonna continue to champion abortion rights with deep ties to our community here,” Hanif said.
Rivera herself has also seen an uptick in support in recent days, securing endorsements from the City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and State Senator Jessica Ramos. On Thursday, Nuestro PAC, a Latino- and Hispanic-focused super-PAC, announced that it was backing Rivera with $500,000 in TV and digital advertising in both English and Spanish.
Despite the sudden onslaught, Goldman’s team is feeling confident heading into Tuesday.
“Dan is building a strong, grassroots coalition around his campaign’s progressive vision for the Tenth District, from trailblazing champions of the progressive movement, like State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymembers Bobby Carroll and Brian Cunningham, to the New York Times editorial board,” said Simone Kanter, communications director for the Goldman campaign. “Dan looks forward to closing out this race the way he has committed to running it from the beginning, with a positive and hopeful vision for the future of our democracy.”