Industry’s fingers crossed as voters decide socialists’ fate

Real estate has poured money into defeating far-left candidates Tuesday

Elizabeth Crowley, Kristen Gonzalez, Conrad Tillard, Jabari Brisport, Dan Goldman, Carlina Rivera (Elizabeth Crowley for State Senate, Kristen for New York, Tillard for Senate 25th, Jabari for Senate, Dan Goldman for New York, Carlina for New York)
Elizabeth Crowley, Kristen Gonzalez, Conrad Tillard, Jabari Brisport, Dan Goldman, Carlina Rivera (Elizabeth Crowley for State Senate, Kristen for New York, Tillard for Senate 25th, Jabari for Senate, Dan Goldman for New York, Carlina for New York)

If voters largely reject far-left candidates in Tuesday’s Democratic primaries, that would be two elections in a row — giving the real estate lobby a boost in Albany and Washington.

The dynamic in these state Senate and U.S. House races, however, is different from that of June’s Assembly contests. This time, far-left incumbents are defending seats more than trying to capture them.

Just as with the Assembly primaries, Mayor Eric Adams has thrown his support behind some of the moderates taking on candidates backed by the New York chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

In the Assembly races, the moderate candidates were mostly incumbents fighting off insurgents from the far left.

At the state level, much is at stake for the real estate industry, including a replacement for the property tax break 421a and the threat of good cause eviction passing statewide. The industry has also poured money into competitive House of Representatives races, where ultra-progressive candidates threaten to shift the tide against property interests.

Here are the races to watch Tuesday:

Senate District 59: Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan

The industry is backing former City Council member Elizabeth Crowley, who also has the support of the mayor and the construction trades.

According to the City, real estate interests have donated at least $150,000 to an independent group that has been running pro-Crowley ads. She has pledged to refuse contributions from “big real estate developers,” but outsiders are free to spend on her behalf if they don’t coordinate with her.

The industry is trying to stop DSA-endorsed Kristen Gonzalez, who opposed the now-expired 421a break and endorses good cause eviction. Activist Nomiki Konst, who threatened to draw votes away from the ideologically similar Gonzalez, dropped out of the race Aug. 13 and endorsed her DSA counterpart.

Another candidate, former City Council aide Mike Corbett, has released a “Blueprint for Fairer New York,” which calls for the end of rent hikes to pay for major capital improvements, or MCIs. Such increases were already gutted by the 2019 rent law.

He also opposes 421a, saying he would form a working group to develop “a pro-tenant system to ensure truly affordable housing is built.”

Senate District 25: Brooklyn

Adams is backing Conrad Tillard, a minister who has been criticized for comments he made about abortion, same-sex marriage and Jewish people, according to the New York Daily News.

The mayor has said those comments were made long ago and Tillard is a different person now. He is challenging incumbent Jabari Brisport, who is endorsed by the DSA and the Working Families Party, has made passage of good cause eviction a priority, and has likened developers to bloodsuckers.

Former teacher Renee Holmes is also vying for the seat.

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Senate District 33: Bronx

This is another race where the mayor is supporting a moderate candidate to unseat a DSA-backed incumbent. Adams has endorsed Miguelina Camilo, an attorney, over Sen. Gustavo Rivera.

Senate District 21: Brooklyn

The DSA has backed David Alexis against Sen. Kevin Parker, who has held the seat for nearly two decades and has the support of the mayor. Kaegan Mays-Williams, a former Manhattan assistant district attorney, is also running.

Congressional District 10: Manhattan, Brooklyn

This is a crowded and highly contested race for an open seat. Carlina Rivera is the favorite of Yimby group Open New York, which cited the City Council member’s support of the Soho and Noho rezoning as a key reason for its endorsement. “Carlina is really the only vehemently pro-housing candidate in the race,” Samir Lavingia, a member of Open New York, told TRD. “She’s a very forward-thinking person who has a plan and detailed ideas instead of empty talking points.” The group also launched a five-figure ad campaign to support Rivera.

The industry, however, is more concerned with preventing Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou from winning. She is endorsed by the Working Families Party and has drawn some ire from pro-development groups for opposing housing for low-income seniors planned for the Elizabeth Street Garden. New York Progressive, a political action committee tied to Jeff Leb, who has previously raised money from the industry, paid for advertisements opposing Niou, according to the New York Times.

Attorney Dan Goldman is the front-runner based on polling and his endorsement by the New York Times and is the most politically moderate of the contenders. But in a testament to the progressive bent of NY-10 voters, Goldman has voiced support for requiring 5 World Trade Center to be 100 percent affordable housing, as have Niou, Westchester Rep. Mondaire Jones and Assembly member Jo Anne Simon, according to Gothamist.

The decision on 5 WTC ultimately falls to the state, which is considering a mixed-use tower with up to 1,200 residential units, of which 25 percent would be below market rate.

Former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman is also running.

Congressional District 12: Midtown, Upper East Side, Upper West Side

Redistricting has pitted long-time Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney against each other for a seat that combines their old districts. The real estate industry is divided in its support for the veteran politicians.

Nadler has received contributions from some of the city’s most storied developers, including Larry Silverstein, Douglas Durst, Stephen Ross and Arthur Zeckendorf, Crain’s reported. Maloney has the backing of the Building and Construction Trades Council and has received contributions from Hartz Group CEO Leonard Stern and Red Apple Group’s John Catsimatidis.

A third candidate, 38-year-old attorney Suraj Patel, has campaigned against the septuagenarian incumbents on the idea that he will bring “new energy and fresh ideas.” Property interests tend to prefer more predictable politicians, and that is certainly true here.

Congressional District 17: Hudson Valley

Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, who has the backing of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Working Families Party, is challenging Rep. Sean Maloney, who represents the 18th District. Biaggi was part of the so-called “blue wave” that helped topple the Independent Democratic Conference in 2018 when she ousted Jeff Klein from his state Senate seat in the Bronx.

Biaggi is giving up her seat for the shot at Congress, and the real estate industry won’t shed any tears if she finds herself out of office come January.