The district offers a diverse cross-section of the city. There’s Tribeca’s upscale condo crowd, Manhattan’s multiracial Lower East Side, and Chinatown—and just across the East River, in Brooklyn, the neighborhood includes the neighborhood’s largest social housing development in Red Hook, a significant Latino and Eastern neighborhood. Asian population in Sunset Park and part of the Orthodox Jewish enclave in Borough Park.
But nearly 60 percent of voters in the new seat are white. And many of them live among the multimillion-dollar brownstones of Brooklyn neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, and Park Slope.
They are educated and wealthy – a potent mix that gives them the luxury of going deeper into politics than the average district voter. So much so that the crunchy brand of intense and sometimes tone-deaf civic engagement (take a Hollywood star, for example kvetching to Whole Foods about broken electric vehicle charging stations) has spawned the phrase “peak park slope”.
In the last midterm elections in 2018, voters in these areas turned out in far greater numbers than the rest of what would become the 10th district, according to a POLITICO analysis of the city’s city council vote totals and geographic information from the CUNY Graduate. Center and the Urban Planning Department.
And in the 2018 Democratic primary for governor, a single constituency in Brooklyn Brownstone registered 660 votes, more than triple the average for that race. By contrast, electoral districts in neighborhoods elsewhere in Brooklyn and Manhattan routinely saw fewer than 100 people stop at the polls.
Unmapped primary area
An August primary represents uncharted territory in New York. A campaign strategist argued that turnout would be higher than the worst-case scenario because of the caustic federal politics driven by recent Supreme Court rulings. Voters may also be energized by a race that will prove far more interesting than Governor Kathy Hochul’s leisurely walk to victory in the June Democratic primary.
However, another said that even high-turnout areas aren’t guaranteed to show up in the August polls, when many affluent New Yorkers go into hiding for second homes.
“The areas that traditionally have a higher turnout are also the areas that may be a bit richer and more likely to be out of town,” the campaign adviser said. “There are a lot of things we have to try and figure out and get around in a competitive primary like this.”
However, with such a historically strong turnout, nearly all roads to victory lead through at least some parts of the vote-rich brownstone Brooklyn. But with 15 candidates in the running and a short time before the August 23 primaries, a winning coalition can take many forms.
“If the lion’s share of the… [brownstone Brooklyn] vote behind one candidate, that candidate will have a big lead,” said Bruce Gyory, senior political advisor at law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. “But if that community divides its support relatively evenly, the race will likely be determined by voters in other parts of the district.”
Candidates with home advantage think they have the upper hand.
The bailiff of Councilor Jo Anne Simon, who has thrown her hat into the race, lies almost entirely within the greater 10th District. In addition, nearly a third of all registered voters in the 10th district — and half of Brooklyn voters in that district — are her constituents.
“Being someone in the community who knows the problems and has solved those problems creates both brand awareness and voter confidence,” Leah Haberman, communications director for Simon, said in a statement. “You need both to win.”
De Blasio also represented the area before his tenure at City Hall, first winning a seat on a Park Slope school board before serving on the City Council for eight years. A campaign strategist for De Blasio, who was not authorized to speak officially, said the former mayor is aiming to win over many of his old district by reminding voters of important City Hall achievements, such as universal pre-K, along with his previous work at the local office. He’s also looking for support elsewhere in the district—such as with black voters in Red Hook—from that base.
Former Representative Elizabeth Holtzman also represented large swaths of the borough for eight years, beginning in 1972, before serving as district attorney and city comptroller.
But brownstone Brooklyn’s spoils are far from guaranteed, even for those who have a history there. De Blasio, for example, has a wide brand awareness.
It remains to be seen how voters will receive him after eight years at the helm of the city government, which ended with polls showing a weak appetite for a future run. And Simon won just 44 percent of her own district in the first round of ranked-choice votes in the race for Brooklyn’s city president last year, with about 34 percent going to Antonio Reynoso, who was supported by progressive groups and won the race.
Recommendations an important factor
With so many candidates competing, recommendations will likely play a more important role than in less crowded competitions.
For the upcoming congressional race, Reynoso has already given his support to Manhattan council member Carlina Rivera, who is rooting her campaign in neighborhoods outside of Brownstone Brooklyn, such as her native Lower East Side.
The Rivera neighborhood is home to an economically and racially diverse electorate. She hopes to win over other neighborhoods with similar demographics, while uniting the 13 percent of Latino voters who come from her backyard and places like Sunset Park. The campaign hopes to tie that foundation to some of Brownstone Brooklyn’s liberal votes — which its strategists believe will be too fractured to confer a definite advantage on a single candidate.
Rivera also has the support of Rep. Nydia Velazquezwhich used to represent huge swaths of the new district, including Manhattan’s Lower East Side and Sunset Park, Red Hook, and Brooklyn Heights.
“There is a clear path to victory that runs through her district district, Sunset Park and the South Slope, where [Velázquez] and [Reynoso] historically,” said campaign adviser Alyssa Cass.
Manhattan Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou — which represents parts of the Financial District, Chinatown, and Lower East Side that also fall entirely within the new congressional boundaries — has earned the support of the Working Families Party and other progressive organizations, including New York Communities for Change .
An endorsement from The New York Times or Daily News could also be crucial in the race, as it did in helping vault candidate Kathryn Garcia lead the pack in last year’s mayoral contest, especially for Brooklyn brownstone voters. .
And the lower the turnout, the more important these validations become.
According to Rivera’s campaign, just over 100,000 voters in what is now the 10th district ran for the 2018 midterm and the 2021 mayoral primary. An unaffiliated election expert recently told The New York Times that he expected between the 70,000 and 90,000 of the district’s 776,000 voters would go to the polls.
No one is likely to win a majority of the vote, and with such a crowded field, a winner could be determined by far less, according to Gyory, the political adviser.
“If Dr. Faust came out of literature to guarantee you 26.27 percent of the vote, I think you might get some buyers,” he said.