Carolyn Maloney’s Campaign Pitch: A Man Can’t Do My Job
One morning last week, a group of leading feminists gathered inside the former Upper East Side home of one of their foremothers, Eleanor Roosevelt, for an emergency meeting.
The purpose of the gathering, convened by Representative Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, was technically to lay out a 12-point plan to confront the rollback of abortion rights consuming the country.
“I have been in that fight a long time,” the 15-term congresswoman said. “We take a step forward, they push us back.”
But as she and others took turns speaking, the attendees — including leaders from Feminist Majority and the National Organization for Women — found themselves grappling with another, more immediate crisis, as well: the possibility that Ms. Maloney, one of the most powerful women in Congress, could be turned out of office this month after three decades.
Just a week before New York’s Aug. 23 primaries, Ms. Maloney is nearing the endgame of an unwelcome, wide-open and increasingly vicious primary fight against her longtime congressional neighbor, Representative Jerrold Nadler, after a New York court unexpectedly combined their Manhattan districts this spring.
With overwhelmingly similar views, the candidates have toiled through the summer to differentiate themselves. Mr. Nadler, 75, has tried to claim the progressive mantle and highlighted his status as the city’s last remaining Jewish congressman. An upstart challenger, Suraj Patel, a 38-year-old lawyer, is targeting younger voters, stressing the need for generational change against two septuagenarians first elected in the 1990s.
For Ms. Maloney, 76, and her allies, though, the race has increasingly centered on women — both their electoral potential to sway the outcome and the importance of protecting one of their own at a moment when the Supreme Court and Republican-led states are rolling back reproductive rights secured half a century ago.
The congresswoman has lent the campaign $900,000 of her own fortune, and is spending a sizable chunk of it on a television ad reinforcing the message: “You cannot send a man to do a woman’s job,” she tells New Yorkers.