BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Political newcomer Dan Goldman eked out a victory in the 10th District congressional primary election on Tuesday, emerging atop a diverse field of Democratic candidates in a diverse new district.
Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou was trailing in second place by around 1,300 votes but refused to concede on election night, declaring that all absentee ballots must be counted.
Westchester Congressmember Mondaire Jones — who had been a rising star on Capitol Hill with a large campaign war chest — came in third. Councilmember Carlina Rivera was fourth, trailed by Brooklyn Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon and Elizabeth Holtzman.
A handful of other candidates — including Bill de Blasio, even though he had dropped out of the race, Soho parent activist Maud Maron and Tribeca attorney Pete Gleason — all got either around 1 percent or less of the vote.
Goldman, the House’s lead counsel in the first Trump impeachment trial, held his election-night party at Torch and Crown Brewing Company, on Vandam Street in Hudson Square. In his victory speech, he notably referenced abortion, after having been criticized by some of his opponents — Rivera, Niou, Simon and Holtzman — for a remark he made on the issue to an Orthodox Jewish media outlet.
“I want to say a heartfelt thank you to the other candidates in this race, who I have a deep respect for and very much look forward to working with going forward,” he said. “Tonight’s result is a victory for all of us who are determined to fight for our fundamental rights — to expand abortion access throughout the country, to fight for our planet, and to protect our children and neighbors from the scourge of gun violence and hate crimes in our society. Thank you for your vote of confidence, and I am honored to be your Democratic nominee for Congress in the 10th District.”
Meanwhile, in the East Village, a group of opponents of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project who had gathered at state Senate candidate Vittoria Fariello’s election-watch party at Royale, at Avenue C and 10th Street, were happy to see Rivera lose her D.C. bid.
“I’m pretty pleased about Carlina coming in fourth,” Pat Arnow of East River Park ACTION said. “If she had tried to work with us, her constituents, she would have had the win. But you can’t screw with people like us and expect to get support.”
Arnow blasted how Rivera’s side has sought to portray the resiliency-project critics as, what she called, “some kind of well-to-do people. … This has always been a middle-class neighborhood,” she stressed. “We’re not some elite white people. … We’re white,” she shrugged.
In her own race, Fariello was unable to topple incumbent Brian Kavanagh, who had overwhelming support from unions, among others. Fariello got around 29 percent of the vote in the three-way race for the district covering Manhattan south of 14th Street. But she said she’ll be back.
“This is only the beginning,” she told her supporters as they gathered in a circle around her. “We started with nothing — no name recognition, no money in the bank. People are tired of having things told to them. We want to bring our voice to the table.”
Joining her at Royale were Councilmember Christopher Marte, District Leaders Paul Newell and Jeannine Kiely, who is also the chairperson of Community Board 2, and State Committeemember Ben Yee.
Meanwhile, Rivera, in her election-night remarks, not far away at Boulton & Watt, at Avenue A and Houston Street, kept her message positive. However, some of her supporters expressed frustration to The Village Sun at Rivera’s challenge of going up against a wealthy candidate in Goldman who poured millions of dollars of his own money into his campaign.
Still proud, still grateful, still here to serve the communities and the city I love. Thank you. I love you. Pa’lante siempre ✊🏽
Carlina Rivera: Election Night Remarks https://t.co/KYWVASrXDU
— Carlina Rivera 利華娜 (@CarlinaRivera) August 24, 2022
“For those of you who don’t know, I’m a proud Puerto Rican girl from the Lower East Side,” Rivera said, as her supporters cheered and a man shouted out, “Boricua!” “It is a part of who I am, it’s a part of my identity, and it certainly deserved a place in this race,” she said, again to cheers.
“Yes, I am a proud Puerto Rican woman from the Lower East Side, but I am someone who wants to set the urban agenda. I am someone that knows we need access to contraception, that we have to take care of our seniors, that we have to build more housing” — big cheers again — “and that we have to take care of these families, like my own mother and my own father that grew up in public housing. These are the families that have built this city, the immigrants, the low-income people.
“Whether it was 9/11 or [the] blackout or Hurricane Sandy or COVID-19, we have gone through it over and over and over again. And so many families who have been disenfranchised, who are living on the margins, we know that they deserve a voice in Congress who lived that, who has lived through that, and who understands that it takes political courage to make decisions and see a future long term.
“I am going to keep serving,” Rivera declared. “I’m a proud public servant — and dammit, I’m good at it! I am going to keep serving you the way that I always have, and that is coming from a place of love and respect.”
She got a big hug from Congressmember Nydia Velazaquez, who Rivera noted was the “daughter of a sugarcane worker, came from Puerto Rico, trailblazer, first of many, believed in me.”
Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, who supported Rivera’s campaign, also made the scene at her election-night party.
The councilmember also thanked her husband, Jamie Rogers — the two met while serving together on Community Board 3 — and they hugged warmly and kissed.
Some of her supporters said it was hard for a “grassroots” campaign like hers to compete with Goldman’s self-financed one. State Committee member Anthony Feliciano, who recently became vice president of Housing Works, told The Village Sun it could be done, “with base building and organizing. … But it was a short race — where someone with a lot of money to invest into it…it makes it much easier.”
Due to the last-minute redistricting chaos, it definitely was a short race — only about three months — as candidates scrambled to gain traction in the newly drawn Lower Manhattan/Brooklyn seat.
A Rivera campaign staffer noted that Goldman, an heir to the Levi Strauss fortune, funneled a total of $4 million of his own money into his campaign. Anyone who has watched TV lately could not avoid seeing Goldman’s ads. Sunday night on Netflix, for example, his ads were on a constant loop, interspersed with only the occasional one for Jones.
A New York Times report noted that Rivera, trying to close the funding gap, “aggressively courted the real estate sector.” The article also maintained that, in a political calculation, Rivera has tacked somewhat to the center — as a pragmatist who “gets things done” — while Niou has stayed on the left.
As The Village Sun reported, during her whirlwind tour of District 10 this past Sunday, Rivera made a point of posing with members of YIMBY group Open New York outside the Edison Parking lot at Great Jones and Lafayette Streets in Noho. The lot is a major development site in the new Soho/Noho rezoning district, which Rivera fiercely championed in the Council.
Meanwhile, Erin Hussein, who ran against Rivera in the Democratic primary election for City Council last year, was also among the crowd at Royale. She said she supported Fariello because she didn’t feel Kavanagh and other state legislators tried hard enough to put the brakes on the East River Park resiliency project — which has now already bulldozed half of the park.
“I’m just not satisfied with people who say, ‘I did the best I could,” when you’re staring down the destruction of a park and ecocide of epic proportions,” she said.
Due to redistricting, which is coming up, New York City councilmembers are currently serving only a two-year half term, instead of the usual four-year full term, meaning there will be City Council elections next year. Asked if she plans to challenge Rivera again, Hussein would only say, “Someone will run in the primary.”
Allie Ryan, who ran against Rivera on the independent Neighborhood Party line in last year’s general election, was also at Royale.
“I’m going to run,” she said. “All the issues that I campaigned on last year — nothing’s changed. East River Park — there’s no oversight: The City Council said 42 percent of the park would be open at any given time [during the E.S.C.R. project]. It seems like 30 percent.
“The trash and litter are bad,” she said, citing conditions in Tompkins Square Park, as well as the entrenched “Thieves Market” at 14th Street and First Avenue.
“And,” Ryan added, “the restaurant sheds have to go.”
At no loss for issues, she scoffed that the Open Street on Avenue B — Rivera sponsored the Open Streets legislation — is not the best use of resources, saying, “We need more support at Tompkins Square Park. The [park] field house was supposed to be renovated in 2020. Tompkins Square Park needs more custodial staff. They have three staff members — they clearly need more.”
As for Niou, she held her election-night get-together in Brooklyn. Among her supporters there was Cynthia Nixon, the “Sex and the City” star who ran for governor against Andrew Cuomo in 2018. As she gave her speech, Niou pounded the air with her fist and declared she would not concede until every vote was counted.
An attack mailer during the campaign accused Niou of being a “fake progressive” for not supporting Haven Green, a senior L.G.B.T. affordable housing project slated for the Elizabeth Street Garden in Little Italy. Rivera and Jones were the only candidates in the race to support the housing plan, which would destroy the iconic garden — with Jones, who is openly gay, telling The Village Sun he would always prioritize L.G.B.T housing.
For Niou’s audacity in bucking Haven Green — the pet project of former Councilmember Margaret Chin — Chin threw her support behind Rivera instead of her fellow Asian politico.
“I’m so disappointed in her,” Chin said of Niou, the Times reported.
However, Ryan noted, “I noticed Yuh-Line had a lot of support from the land-use community.”
Ryan is co-leader of M.A.G.I.C., a coalition that is suing to stop the development of Governors Island with a climate change center.
Hank Sheinkopf, the veteran Democratic strategist, said Goldman won because of four things: “They ran a good campaign; they had the funding to do it; the New York Times endorsement; and the confusion.”
By “the confusion,” he meant so many candidates running in a new district in a fast-paced, three-month race.
As for Niou finishing a close second, he said, “I wasn’t surprised. The progressives just needed someone to organize around — and they had her to organize around. The Working Families Party and those folks had to organize around someone. The left is not dead yet.
“She’s perfect for that district,” Sheinkopf said of Niou. “She’s young, she’s vibrant, very much to the left. Saying what people in portions of that district want to hear — social inequality, they want to justify their own success. She’ll be back. The question is where that will be? We don’t know.”
Jan Lee, a longtime Chinatown activist and a leader in the fight against the Lower Manhattan “megajail” project, endorsed Goldman in the race.
Speaking the day after the election, Lee said, “Dan has proven himself to be very levelheaded under extreme pressure already,” referring to Goldman’s work on the Trump impeachment. “We need a person who is levelheaded in Congress.”
Lee said both Jones and Niou went after Goldman for his personal wealth “because they had nothing else” to attack him on. Yet, Lee noted, Niou’s father was in the Panama Papers — a cache of leaked documents about wealthy individuals and offshore business entities.
Lee added that Niou’s support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against Israel (she says she supports people’s right to back BDS, though she herself does not boycott Israel) and her criticism of police did not win her votes in the Jewish and Asian communities, respectively.
As for the “megajail,” Lee admitted Niou was “first out of the gate” in protesting it, but that she later faded during crunch time in the effort to block the contentious project. Meanwhile, he said, Goldman promised to look at the community’s preferred option carefully — namely, the idea of reusing the existing “Tombs” building instead of demolishing it and building a taller jail on the site.
“He said he will analyze the city’s plan,” Lee said. “He said, ‘I’m for borough-based jails. If I feel that your plan is the more logical option, I will go with that plan.’”
Meanwhile, Lee had very good things to say about Rivera.
“I think she would be a good representative in Congress,” he said, “the way she carries herself, the way she speaks. She takes strong positions. But she aligned herself with the United Democratic Organization in Chinatown,” the area’s main political club, which supports the “megajail” project, he said. “That was a dealbreaker for me.”