Carolyn Maloney Loses to Jerry Nadler in Hotly Contested House Race

After redistricting, neither representative was willing to run in a different district, leading to a lengthy, expensive, and unnecessary campaign.


With more than two thirds of votes in, NBC News reports that Rep. Jerry Nadler has defeated Rep. Carolyn Maloney in the New York Democratic primary by more than 30 points.

The race was unique in that each of its frontrunners was an incumbent. Nadler represented New York's 10th district, and Maloney the 12th, for 30 years; after a court-appointed redistricting process, the newly-drawn 12th district encompassed much of each of their former districts' territory.

While either Nadler or Maloney could have run in an adjacent district—or any other district in the state, if they wanted—each chose to run in the 12th district primary. Ideologically, the two are so closely aligned that much of their campaigns were about their respective identities, Maloney as a trailblazer for women, and Nadler as the last remaining Jewish congressperson from New York City.

In an election year expected to be a bloodbath for Democrats, one would expect the party to make every winnable race count and not to squander precious resources where a party victory is all but assured. Instead, two incumbents in their 70s raised and spent millions of dollars to gain an advantage in a district that, according to FiveThirtyEight, leans Democratic by 68 percentage points.

Maloney likely lost support over her recent remarks expressing the belief that President Joe Biden should not, and would not, run for reelection in 2024. She made the remarks, for which she has since apologized, to The New York Times when asked if there should be an age limit for members of Congress (which she opposed).

Unlike in Georgia, where two Democrats competed for a single remaining Democratic-leaning district, Maloney and Nadler are not denying their party a seat: All of the Manhattan-area districts are solidly blue. But by each refusing to step down, Maloney and Nadler necessitated a lengthy, expensive, and unnecessary campaign. In doing so, each of them showed that their dedication to power exceeds their dedication to their party.