Dan Goldman, the former federal prosecutor who poured millions of his personal fortune into his bid for New York’s Tenth Congressional District, narrowly won Tuesday night after a nail-biter against the progressive State Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou.
Goldman declared victory at a campaign party, while Niou said she was not ready to concede. Standing onstage in Soho, flanked by his wife and children, Goldman didn’t name his Democratic opponents in a brief speech. Instead, he focused on Donald Trump, whom he practically ran against during the primary, portraying himself as the man Democrats should send to Washington, D.C., to safeguard the nation’s democracy from a return by the former president.
“It is a rebuke of Donald Trump. He tried and failed again to meddle in an election,” Goldman said, referencing Trump’s bizarre quasi-endorsement last week. “We are facing threats unlike any we have seen before. Donald Trump and his authoritarian Republican Party are a danger to our progressive values, our safety, and our way of life. Make no mistake about it, he will run again in 2024, and he will try to steal the next election. If the Republicans take the majority in the House in November, they will try to impeach Biden, and they will grind our government to a standstill. The stakes could not be higher right now.”
Goldman, 46, is new to politics but had two huge advantages in the race: his personal wealth as heir to the Levi Strauss & Co. fortune, which he used to self-fund his campaign, and the endorsement of the New York Times editorial board. He ran on his decade-long record as a former Manhattan federal prosecutor under U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and later as the lead counsel during Democrats’ first impeachment of Trump. (Earlier this year, he briefly ran for state attorney general but pulled out after Letitia James decided to run for reelection after all.)
As he loaned his campaign close to $4 million of his fortune in the final month, Goldman was accused of trying to buy the seat, which Niou referenced during her remarks at a campaign event at the Brooklyn Marina. “Our district is not for sale,” she told throngs of supporters, who were upbeat as vote totals showed her within striking distance of Goldman. With some absentee ballots yet to be counted, she refused to give up, though she acknowledged she was trailing. “I know that tonight’s votes aren’t yet what we hope to hear, but we will not concede until we count every vote,” she said.
The race was unusual for the city — an open congressional seat. It began after a set of maps that were highly favorable to Democrats were struck down as unconstitutional by New York’s highest court. Under new maps ordered by the court, Jerry Nadler decided not to run to represent the new Tenth, which cleaved off his Upper West Side base and attached a huge swath of Brooklyn. Instead, he chose to run against his colleague Carolyn Maloney in the 12th, covering Manhattan’s Upper East and West Sides. Nadler’s decision created a vacuum in the new Tenth, drawing in candidates from former mayor Bill de Blasio to Jones, who relocated from Westchester.
For several months, there wasn’t a clear front-runner in the crowded field. Then, just weeks before the primary, the Times issued its long-awaited endorsement, backing Goldman to represent the district. The endorsement received swift criticism for selecting a newcomer over experienced local politicians and for endorsing a white man over a diverse field that included two women of color, Niou and Rivera. In the final two weeks, progressives such as Niou and Jones teamed up to urge voters to support anyone but Goldman, whom they view as a more conservative Democrat.
Although Goldman has won this race, it’s likely he will face a left-wing primary challenge in two years should he run for reelection given the sizable portion of the vote his various progressive challengers captured.