Rep. Jerry Nadler's delivering his victory speech on Tuesday 06/28/2016 - photo by Jacob Kornbluh
Congressman Jerry Nadler scored a resounding victory in a primary election that was said to be a referendum on his support of the Iran nuclear deal.
According to unofficial results, Nadler beat Oliver Rosenberg, his first Democratic primary challenger in two decades, by a margin of 89 percent to 10 percent in New York 10th congressional district’s Democratic primary on Tuesday.
“After 40 years in politics, there’s no better feeling than after an election – this campaign in particular, which I am glad to be done with — and so are the voters in the district, who sent a resounding message tonight,” a smiling Nadler told a few dozen of his supporters gathered in Greenwich Village, on the west side of Lower Manhattan. “Tonight, the voters of the 10th congressional district made their voice heard loud and clear. I said earlier during this campaign that in an age in which principles and politics have never seen further apart, it is important that at certain times and on certain issues to act according to your conscience and to do what is right based on the merits, not the politics. I am glad that tonight the politics worked out.”
Nadler, who represents a large Liberal and Orthodox Jewish constituency in the largest Jewish district in the nation, has faced criticism for his support of the Iran nuclear deal. The NY Daily News endorsed his challenger on the basis of Nadler’s vote on the international accord.
Granted a vote of confidence, Nadler maintained that the outcome shows that in most of the district people thought it was the right thing to do, or that he voted his conscience while agreeing with him in general. “I think that most of the district approves of the deal,” Nadler told Jewish Insider. “Probably, a lot of people agreed with that vote, or they do now.”
According to Nadler, even those who disagreed with him on the deal felt that he represented them well in general and now want him to continue to represent them in making sure the deal is enforced and hold Iran’s feet to the fire. “But I do think that most of the district thinks that it was the right thing to do.”
Ryan Karben, a former State Assemblyman and a political activist now residing in the district, said the results show that Nadler managed to be larger than the diversity of the communities that he represents. “I think tonight was a vote of confidence for that kind of leadership,” Karben told Jewish Insider. He added that the results don’t prove much on Nadler’s vote in support of the Iran deal since he had the credibility “fighting the pro-Israel battle.”
Nadler’s overall lead was much smaller in the Brooklyn part of his district. Nadler eked out a win by one single vote with 100 percent of precincts reporting. However, in the 48th Assembly District, which is largely comprised of the Borough Park Orthodox Jewish community, Rosenberg beat Nadler 78 percent to 22 percent.
“Brooklyn voters didn’t forget Nadler’s support of the Iran deal despite an unqualified challenger,” Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn) told Jewish Insider. “It’s up to Nadler to repair the trust that he’s lost from his Brooklyn constituents.”
Ezra Friedlander, a Democratic consultant and a Nadler supporter, slammed local self-proclaimed leaders “who not only lied about Nadler’s lifelong commitment to the Jewish community but also his record of achievement pertaining to support for Israel, most notably when he defended Israel’s right to defend itself during the Gaza conflict.” He also pointed to Nadler’s authorship of the RLUIPA act, “which all religious communities rely on to build shuls when local zoning boards attempt to keep frum people out.”
Nadler was gracious in his defeat in that part of the district. “They are entitled to protest,” he said. “The key is that I am going to continue to be the Congressman and I want to work with everybody, and I certainly want to work with the people in Borough Park, as I have on many other subjects. I will continue to do that.”
Curtis Ellis, a spokesman for the Rosenberg campaign, told The Associated Press that the candidate was proud that he put Nadler to the test in the primary. “Congressman Nadler learned he couldn’t take the voters for granted. He had to ask for the vote and that should make him a better congressman,” Ellis said. “Contested elections are a good habit to get into. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another 20 years.”