Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou announced Tuesday that she would not seek a third-party challenge to the apparent Democratic nominee Dan Goldman in the general election for New York’s 10th Congressional District.
“Enough of the absentee ballots have been counted and we are conceding the primary,” Niou said in a video she tweeted. “We simply do not have the resources to fight all fights at the same time. And we must protect our democracy now.”
She added, “The movement we fight for is bigger than any one person."
The Lower Manhattan progressive had been mulling a challenge against Goldman in the 10th Congressional District on the Working Families Party line after narrowly losing in last month’s primary. Niou, who was considered among the most left-leaning in a field of a dozen candidates vying for the Democratic nomination, had been endorsed by the influential third party that seeks to elect progressive lawmakers and push left-leaning policies.
Goldman, an ex-prosecutor who campaigned on a promise to fight Donald Trump and right-wing Republicans, was the wealthiest candidate in the crowded race and is heir to the Levi Strauss fortune. He spent at least $4 million of his own money on his campaign.
Despite not having much name recognition, a late endorsement from the New York Times catapulted him into a frontrunner.
The 10th Congressional District, which was newly drawn after the decennial redistricting process, represents one of the most liberal swaths of New York City. It includes Lower Manhattan and portions of northwest Brooklyn, including Park Slope and other brownstone neighborhoods.
Calls for Niou to run against Goldman in November began soon after primary night revealed that she was behind by at least 1,300 votes. The final tally of absentee ballots have yet to be announced by the Board of Elections. Niou and two other progressives – Rep. Mondaire Jones and Manhattan City Councilmember Carlina Rivera – wound up splitting 60% of the votes.
Niou had initially refused to concede the race, saying that she wanted to wait until all the votes were counted.
The loss was deeply frustrating among progressives and especially the Working Families Party, who saw the seat as a prime opportunity to gain political ground given the contours of the district where the grassroots organization wields influence on liberal voters.
Although the party has had some success running on the general election ballot in City Council races, a November challenge for a congressional seat by the Working Families Party would have been unprecedented.
Niou won her current assembly seat after running on the Working Families Party line during a 2016 special election to replace the embattled ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Although she lost the special election, she won the Democratic primary.
Niou had given up her seat in the Assembly to run for Congress. She will remain in office until the end of the year.
“We have always been sober about the structural barriers we face when running grassroots candidates against the power of immense wealth,” said Sochie Nnaemeka, director of the New York Working Families Party. “As we approach November, we’ll collectively turn our efforts to defending our democracy against an increasingly extremist GOP.”
In a phone interview with Gothamist, Nnaemeka acknowledged that Goldman’s personal resources had given him a tremendous advantage. Niou raised under $500,000, the least of any of the top four Democratic candidates.
“He was born on third base and his money and his privilege got him home,” she said.
During the campaign, Goldman argued that he had proven that he could fundraise. He raised more than $1 million in June. He later said he poured his own money into the campaign so that he could devote more time speaking with voters.