Originally posted at Kings County Politics, March 22, 2016
In an election season where entrenched lawmakers in Congress are drawing an increasingly wary eye from constituents, 24-year incumbent Rep. Jerrold Nadler might be facing a perfect storm of an opponent in Oliver Rosenberg.
Rosenberg, 30, is a very pro-Israel religious Jew, who decided to run in the upcoming June Democratic Primary because he was both disappointed and felt betrayed after Nadler supported the Iranian nuclear arms deal. It is a sentiment he shares with many orthodox Jews in the Brooklyn side of the 10th Congressional District, which includes Borough Park, Kensington, and parts of Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, Red Hook, Sunset Park and Midwood.
Rosenberg is also openly gay, which could spell additional problems for Nadler as the Manhattan side of the district has arguably the largest LGBTQ Congressional constituencies including such enclaves as as the West Greenwich Village area including Christopher Street, Chelsea, and increasingly Hell’s Kitchen, to say nothing of a fairly strong LGBTQ community on the Upper West Side.
Iranian issue aside, Rosenberg also decided to run out of a growing frustration among Americans that both sides of the aisle in Congress is mired in a partisan gridlock – and Nadler, who has a long history of voting strictly along partisan lines, is a shining example of of while the system in the House seems broken and rigged.
“We have incumbents who sit there 10,20 and 30 years 30 and they seem to threaten and bully you whenever election time comes us because they don’t want us to have choices or a vote that counts,” said Rosenberg. “To be 100 percent partisan is why Congress is not working and it’s very unfair. This makes me uniquely qualified because of the communities I grew up in I had to talk to many different people where you can agree to disagree and yet remain in the conversation with a progressive agenda.”
Rosenberg grew up in a modern Orthodox family in Los Angeles and while attending Yeshiva University, came out as being gay. He is currently a leading member of the LGBTQ Jewish community as the founder of Or Chayim, a two-year-old congregation that holds monthly Orthodox-style Shabbat services and dinners for LGBTQ Jews and their allies.
After graduating, he became an investment banker and now has a start-up, Prealth, in the healthcare technology sector, in which he is developing an app that allows people to compare doctors based on cost, insurance information and patient reviews.
Since announcing that he is running, Rosenberg said Nadler’s team have been putting the word out in the LGBTQ political community that any support for Rosenberg will have consequences. It is these kinds of intimidation tactics that lead to discouraging Americans from standing up and opposing incumbents, thus allowing the status quo to be maintained, he said.
Ironically, Rosenberg noted that Nadler, a member of the House LGBTQ caucus, should have also voted against the Iran deal for that country’s treatment of gays.
“They hang people in Iran for being gay,” Rosenberg said.
In regard to seeking support from the socially conservative religious areas of Borough Park and Kensington, Rosenberg said he remains highly respectful of the community and is not the kind of person that will go around trying to cause any divisions.
“I’m trying to message relationships with the Borough Park community to rally around me,” said Rosenberg. “I know Dov Hikind is outspoken against Nadler, but I’m also sure a social conservative is not able to win the West Side of Manhattan. “I’m more progressive than Nadler, but I’m also more pro-Israel.”
The Democratic Congressional Primary is June 28.