Jerrold Nadler, New York City’s only Jewish Democratic U.S. House member to support President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, faces his first primary challenger in two decades on the basis of that vote.
Tuesday’s Democratic primary will be a test of the 2015 deal’s potency as an electoral weapon, and of whether dissatisfaction among Jewish voters could rise high enough to take down a long-established congressman. Nadler, 69, sits on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and the Committee on the Judiciary. His vote on the Iran deal was the most controversial of his long tenure.
“The whole matter was divisive in the Jewish community,” said Rabbi Robert Levine, who leads reform Congregation Rodeph Sholom in Nadler’s district. “Imminent nuclear threat was posed.”
Nadler’s primary opponent is Oliver Rosenberg, a 30-year-old Yeshiva University graduate who once worked for JPMorgan Chase & Co. Rosenberg, an orthodox Jew, says the congressman, first elected in 1992, is out of touch with voters — especially millennials. And he argues that any support for the Shiite Islamic theocracy means an existential threat to the Jewish state.
‘Fearless and Principled’
Rosenberg’s campaign has endorsements from comedian Jackie Mason and Brooklyn Democratic Assemblyman Dov Hikind, an outspoken critic of Nadler’s Iran vote at the time. The New York Daily News backed Rosenberg on the basis of Nadler’s Iran vote. Nadler has endorsements from the party establishment, including President Barack Obama, as well as the New York Times, which called him “a fearless and principled liberal.”
There is little reliable polling in the district, which includes Manhattan’s liberal Upper West Side and Brooklyn’s Orthodox congregations. and has the largest Jewish population in the U.S., according to the Berman Jewish Databank. The candidates have raised similar amounts, with Nadler raking in slightly over $372,000 and Rosenberg slightly over $314,000 as of June 8, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Still, Rosenberg’s campaign is primarily self-funded and Nadler has more than $1 million in cash on hand from previous election cycles.