Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Astoria, College Point, Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside, parts of the Bronx) turned heads last Tuesday when she endorsed incumbent Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-West Side, Financial District, Brooklyn) in his reelection bid.
The two New York congresspeople represent opposing wings of the Democratic party. Nadler, an old guard establishment liberal, has represented the district for almost thirty years. Ocasio-Cortez represents the party’s younger progressive and socialist insurgency which has dedicated itself to shifting the Democratic party further left and electing younger, more diverse officials.
“He’s respected and admired by progressives…I’m glad to have Jerry as a friend, a colleague and a partner in every fight, and I am proud to endorse him,” Ocasio-Cortez said of Nadler in her endorsement, which he tweeted.
“Whether the issue is climate change and the Green New Deal, universal health care and Medicare for All, or the kind of policies that will reduce income inequality in America, Jerry Nadler is there.”
Nadler’s team featured the endorsement in a Thursday fundraising appeal email, which also called an unnamed primary opponent implied to be former New York State Deputy Secretary of Economic Development Lindsey Boylan “wealthy” and “Wall Street-funded.”
Though Boylan has indeed presented herself as a progressive alternative to Nadler, her filing with the Federal Elections Commission shows donations from such corporate bigwigs as Susan Wagner of BlackRock, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Facebook CFO David Wehner, and Emma Bloomberg, daughter of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Boylan indicated that she had close relationships with many of these figures, including having been a college classmate of Wagner’s and a high school friend of Khosrowshahi’s husband, using the opportunity to discuss the challenges she has faced as a woman running for office.
“I’m not in bed with anyone. I think the suggestion is both misogynist and sexist and in every conversation I go into I talk about the wealth tax, I talk about extreme inequality and I say the same thing and if you call anyone of my donors you can tell if they talk to you, they would say the same thing. That they know me, they either worked with me or they met me, they believe in me and there’s no commitment to do anything but what I think is right which is exactly what I’m going to do,” she assured Queens County Politics.
“Every ex-boyfriend I have, every ex-boyfriend’s mom I have, every ex-boss I have, has been asked for money. So that’s just how it works. No one even covered my race until I had the first quarter where I actually brought in some money “I think we put especially women in a real catch 22 where we tell them that you don’t matter until they bring in support and then the minute they do, we critique them on what that looks like.”
Boylan also grilled Nadler’s own legacy of taking corporate donations. “One of the things Nadler likes to talk about is quote and quote Wall Street money. I don’t know if you have a map of the district but literally the bottom half of the district is literally the Financial District,” she said.
“As the former Economic Development Secretary for the State of New York, I was very aware how much of our tax base relies upon the financial sector in every way from secretary to managing director and I don’t think the best way to talk about systemic change is to malign the industry that provides the tax base.”
“You can talk about the changes you want to make but he never does that. He’s just saying my Wall Street money because he doesn’t even understand the nuances of Wall Street which is exactly why politicians like him are so bankrupt because they have no idea what they’re talking about and how to fix the problems we have. We absolutely have problems with the financial markets, we absolutely have problems with them increasing inequality and a man like that, who doesn’t even understand what he’s saying, is not going to solve our problems.”
Nadler declined to comment.
Meanwhile, fellow primary challenger Jonathan Herzog, a former presidential campaign staffer for Andrew Yang, avoided the exchange, focusing on his policy platform in the home stretch.
“Politicians will politician. Our focus is on our clear record of change, experience leading at the vanguard of this era’s civil rights fights, and our transformative vision to move New York Forward beginning with a universal basic income, a data bill of rights, publicly financed elections, and quadratic funding,” said Herzog.
“Ultimately, New Yorkers in the 10th are the ones who decide – we are independently-minded and do our research. Watch the debate, and vote! Vote by June 23rd.”
Reporting contributed by Clarissa Sosin