As we’ve previously reported, the May court-ordered redistricting map for New York had the effect of sending some of the state’s most prominent Democrats into an absolute tailspin, as the redrawn House districts forced incumbent Democrats – some of them longtimers – to make tough decisions on which of their colleagues to challenge in the primary.
While allegations of racism flew and calls for resignations filled the air in the immediate aftermath, undoubtedly the most bitterly contested race has been the one between Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler, who are both over 70 years old and have been in Congress since the early 1990s, and both of who hold powerful leadership positions in the House.
Both are now vying for the newly-drawn 12th Congressional district, and to say things have gotten testy would be an understatement, with Nadler at one point calling Maloney “cowardly” over some of her past stances and Maloney going so far as to declare Nadler “senile” earlier this week, referencing comments from a New York Post editorial on their battle.
But on Monday, the eve of Primary Day in New York state, things took an even uglier turn when it was reported that Maloney had not just referred to Nadler as “senile” but also said he was “half-dead.” When she was confronted with her remarks by a CNN reporter, Maloney reportedly ran away while her daughter physically inserted herself with hands flailing in between the reporter and Maloney to block him from further asking questions as Maloney got into a waiting vehicle:
When a CNN reporter tracked her down on Monday at a campaign stop on the Upper West Side to ask her about her comments, she began running down the sidewalk to a waiting car, while one of her daughters repeatedly positioned herself with her hands and legs out in an attempt to block any further questions.
When asked why she called Nadler “half dead,” Maloney closed the door of the car and waved goodbye. An hour earlier, finishing her only announced campaign stop of the day before the primary, she also closed the door when another reporter asked if she thinks Nadler is senile.
Nadler allies, meanwhile, have whispered reminders about Maloney’s long history of odd remarks and demeanor, which ranges from being called kooky to not entirely sober. A Maloney spokesperson did not respond to questions about those comments.
Questions have long been raised about Nadler’s health, and those questions got louder after a 2019 event where Nadler appeared to briefly pass out and become disoriented, which prompted then-NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to offer him something to drink. Nadler, who had to be taken to the hospital, later denied he passed out and claimed in so many words that he got overheated because the room was warm and he was dehydrated.
Health issues and claims of questionable sobriety aside, things could get really interesting if the third candidate in this race – Obama admin alum Suraj Patel – pulls off the upset. That’s a possibility that deeply troubles Nadler, regardless of his feelings about Maloney:
At least one major committee chair — House Judiciary or House Oversight — is going to lose tonight. Nadler told me NY losing two would be “catastrophic.”
“Any freshman, no matter how good,” he said, “won’t have the ability to bring back as much as a senior member.”
— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) August 23, 2022
I have no dog in this fight other than to watch fellow Democrats destroy each other, but it always fascinates me when entrenched politicos say the quiet part out loud about how fearful they are of losing their power.
Polls close in New York at 9 pm ET. We’ll have results as they come in. Buckle up!