Brooklyn Bridge & Manhattan Bridge (by Marie Berne is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Jul 21, 2022
BK Mag 311: A cheat sheet to the Democratic primary for NY’s new 10th district
Even though Bill de Blasio has dropped out of the race, a slew of politicians are still duking it out in an affluent redrawn district
Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is no longer running for a congressional seat in Brooklyn — for real this time. The longtime Park Slope resident said Tuesday that he is dropping out of the Democratic primary race in the city’s newly-redrawn 10th district and taking a break from electoral politics altogether.
But that doesn’t mean the 10th district primary drama is finished. In fact, it could heat up considerably from now until the August 23 voting day, as the many candidates — who include a lawyer involved in a Trump impeachment trial and a trailblazing former House rep — begin to snipe at each other.
A new poll released by Data Progress last week, which revealed de Blasio to be towards the bottom of the heap (and helped him make his decision to bow out), showed seven other hopefuls still in the running, and four or five of them in relatively competitive positions.
Here’s what you need to know about the new district, its Democratic primary and the stakes for Brooklyn.
OK, dumb question. What is New York’s 10th congressional district?
There are no dumb questions here! The newly-redrawn district covers some of Brooklyn’s (and Manhattan’s) most sought-after real estate. It includes all of Manhattan under 12th Street (think the East and West Villages, Chinatown, SoHo, the Financial District and more) and crosses into brownstone Brooklyn, encompassing Dumbo, part of Downtown Brooklyn, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Prospect Heights, Gowanus, Red Hook, Park Slope, Sunset Park, Borough Park and Bay Ridge.
Why did it change?
Since 1975, every 10 years — after the national census updates local population tallies across the country — states are tasked with taking that data and reconfiguring their congressional districts and their borders. Based on population increases or decreases, states can gain or lose seats in the House of Representatives.
Each district within a state can change too, as populations shift and grow and move around. The districts are required to contain roughly the same number of people — so new maps are often required to keep the populations in each roughly equal.
Makes sense. So the new district is a totally logical reflection of the census numbers, right?
Over the past decade, New York’s 10th district was an oddly long, thin strip of territory that swept down along Manhattan’s west side, all the way from Morningside Heights, through the southern tip of Manhattan, and into a small section of Brooklyn that included Borough Park and parts of Bensonhurst. The shift from this map to the new one — which officially goes into effect next year, as the new winner takes office — makes the 10th one of the most (if not the most) altered of the city’s districts.
At least everyone is probably happy with the outcome, right?
Democrats have agonized over the new maps, which will likely cost the party House seats this year, which could in term lead to the party’s loss of control of the chamber. The redistricting has shifted longtime leaders who have represented parts of the district (such as Jerry Nadler and Nydia Velaszuez, see more on them below) to focus on other districts. And in some cases, like in Nadler’s case, Democratic incumbents find themselves in primary fights against fellow incumbents. Fighting with friends isn’t fun for anyone.
So who’s running for the seat?
More like who’s not running, amirite?
When the new map was announced in May, over a dozen candidates jumped into the ring, including de Blasio. That number has whittled down over time, but the list is still unusually long for a House primary.
Here’s who’s still in, arranged by their vote percentage in the recent poll:
- Carlina Rivera, a 38-year-old former Democratic Socialists of America member who has represented the City Council’s 2nd District in Lower Manhattan, garnered 17 percent.
- Yuh-Line Niou, a progressive 39-year-old who is a State Assembly member for the 65th district, which includes Chinatown, the Lower East Side and other parts of Lower Manhattan, is at 14 percent.
- Daniel Goldman, a Levi Strauss heir who was legal counsel to House Democrats during Donald Trump’s first impeachment proceedings — and who is getting hammered by rivals in the race over recent comments on abortion — is at 12 perecent.
- Elizabeth Holtzman, an 80-year-old former four-time congresswoman who was New York City’s first female district attorney, is at 9 percent.
- Jo Anne Simon, another New York State Assembly member who came in second in last year’s race to become Brooklyn borough president, is at 8 percent.
- Mondaire Jones currently represents New York’s 17th congressional district north of the city — another area that has a new map that would have pitted him against the prominent Democratic incumbent Sean Maloney. Jones also moved recently to the 10th district, and is garnering 7 percent.
- Maud Maron, a former Legal Aid lawyer, is bringing up the rear with 1 percent.
But this is just a primary, so who cares?
You should. That this is one of the most liberal districts in the country, means whoever wins the Democratic primary here is a shoo-in in November.
Wait. Who currently occupies the seat, and — why aren’t they running?
Jerry Nadler, the longtime congressman and D.C. power broker, has represented the 10th seat, but is now running in the new 12th district, which covers much of the 10th’s former Manhattan ground. (His opponent: fellow longtime incumbent Carolyn Maloney.)
What about Nydia Velasquez, who has represented parts of this new district for years?
Velasquez, the first Puerto Rican woman to serve in Congress, has represented different districts in the area since the early 1990s. She is currently the representative for the 7th district and is running in the newly-redrawn 7th, which now starts around Fort Greene, includes Williamsburg and Greenpoint, and stretches into parts of Queens, including Astoria, Sunnyside and more.
Why is this seat the party that everyone wants to get in on anyway?
Read through the list of neighborhoods that this district encompasses one more time, see if words like “prestige,” “hip” or “brownstones” come to mind, then think it over.
But the real roots of this crowded bar of a district lie in the re-mapping process, which has left this area — never quite configured in this way — wide open. It’s the new Wild West of Kings County.
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