Politico

Potential candidates flood incumbent-free New York House race — including de Blasio


NEW YORK — A Manhattan and Brooklyn Congressional district with no incumbent is turning into a campaign free-for-all.

Hours after former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on MSNBC that he would compete for the newly-created 10th Congressional District spanning Brownstone Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan, potential challengers piled up.

But de Blasio remained bullish on his chances in an interview with POLITICO Friday.

“It’s a homecoming. It’s my old Council district,” he said of the seat he held for eight years as a local lawmaker.

He’ll have some formidable opponents.

Mondaire Jones, a sitting congressman who won a suburban seat north of New York City two years ago, told a political insider he is considering vying for the seat, according to a person familiar with the conversation.

Jones — who doesn’t live in the district — has become a cause célèbre for the progressive left flank of the Democratic Party, following word this week that he would likely face a primary from Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. On Thursday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called on Maloney to step down as House Democrats’ campaign chair if he goes through with the challenge.

Jones did not return a call seeking comment and his chief of staff, Zach Fisch, declined to answer questions Friday afternoon, several hours before the final maps of the new Congressional lines were expected to be released.

Another person eyeing the race is Dawn Smalls, a one-time candidate for the position of public advocate in New York City three years ago. Smalls worked in both the Clinton and Obama White Houses before being appointed to the role as monitor of a global financial company.

“I’m definitely looking at it,” Smalls, who lives in the district, said in a brief phone interview Friday. “I haven’t made a final decision.”

Smalls said she had “no intention of running” until a special master tasked with drawing New York’s congressional lines released draft plans Monday, “and it included my apartment.”

Jarrod Bernstein, a former aide to Mayor Mike Bloomberg who worked with Smalls in the Obama White House, called her a “formidable candidate in the NY10 [who] knows how to put together a coalition and really connect with Democratic primary voters of all demographics.”

And Daniel Goldman, an attorney who led the first round of House impeachment hearings against former President Donald Trump, is considering a run for the seat as well, according to a person close to him. Goldman — whose interest in the seat was first reported by City & State — is being advised by pollster Jeff Liszt of Impact Research, the person said.

City Councilmember Carlina Rivera has set up a federal election committee ahead of the Aug. 23 primary, and other candidates or hopefuls include Sen. Brad Hoylman as well as Assembly Members Robert Carroll and Jo Anne Simon.

Earlier this week POLITICO reported state Sen. Simcha Felder said he was considering the seat, which includes an Orthodox Jewish section of Brooklyn that he has long represented.

De Blasio — who had been grappling with what to do after two terms as mayor — said in the interview that he is energized by the race.

“This is going to be really a grassroots campaign, door to door, lot of field, and that’s really a campaign I thrive in,” he said.

Asked how he believes he would fare in a largely white district, given his consistently low polling numbers among higher-income white Democrats, de Blasio pointed out he won them over during his mayoral races in 2013 and 2017.

“I’m a problem solver; I’m someone who can help fix things in a community,” he said. “I will go out humbly … to earn every vote. I think the vast majority of progressive voters are going to start with a clean slate.”

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