The gloves came off this week between two entrenched and once-friendly Democratic Congress members who are now battling in a primary for their political lives.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney fired the first salvo this week, claiming to The Post that her longtime colleague Rep. Jerry Nadler tried to muscle her out of a newly carved Manhattan congressional district — and wouldn’t have attempted such a thing if she were a man.
“I met with Jerry and he asked me to leave and stand aside,” Maloney said of the alleged exchange on the House floor on May 16, just after a court-appointed special master created the new Upper East Side/Upper West Side 12th District — setting the pair of lefty lions on a collision course.
“I said no because this district is majority mine,” she continued.
“My whole life people have told me I shouldn’t be where I am so I am not surprised he told me to step aside,” she said. “The time for women stepping aside is over.”
Asked if Nadler would have treated a male rival differently, Maloney bluntly replied, “Yes I do.”
Since the beginning of their careers three decades ago, Nadler has repped a district running down the Upper West Side (what is now the 10th District), while Maloney’s has held down the Upper East Side (in what is now the 12th District). That all changed after the special master created a redrawn 12th district which threw east and west together. Despite the new district being 60% Maloney’s, Nadler jumped into the race, rather than potentially face alien territory in his newly redrawn 10th district — which has now become a fiercely competitive open seat.
Maloney and Nadler both came to Congress within months of each other in 1992 and 1993 and have spent three decades on friendly terms — which is why it stung when Nadler never even gave her a courtesy call to let her know his intention to run in her district, Maloney said.
The Aug. 23 primary is expected to be close with large portions of their well-to-do constituents likely out of town at vacation homes or other summertime jaunts.
Maloney allies are confident though and note she’s a tireless campaigner who has beaten back tough primaries in the past. They privately scoff at Nadler, who has not faced a close election in nearly half a century, and say he won’t have the physical stamina to go toe-to-toe.
“No one sees Jerry as campaigning hard in the heat of summer,” said one close Maloney ally. “I don’t think you’re going to get Jerry from out in front of Zabars.”
Both candidates are in their 70s — Maloney is 76 years old and Nadler 74 — but he’s long been beset by health problems.
Maloney — speaking by phone from the Grand Central Oyster Bar — could not name any policy differences she had with her chief rival, but urged people to compare their accomplishments.
He serves as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, while she similarly rules the House Oversight Committee — positions they both claimed in 2019. “I am a trailblazing woman,” Maloney declared. “I am the first woman to chair the Joint Economic Committee and the first woman to chair the House Oversight Committee.”
She touted her work on the Second Avenue Subway and the East Side Access project (rechristened this week as Grand Central Madison) — and the billions of federal dollars she has raked in to fund them over the years.
“Ask Jerry what he has brought in?” she snapped.
In their most recent listing, the nonpartisan Center for Effective Lawmaking ranked Maloney third among all House Democrats in their most recent survey. Nadler was ranked 17th. (Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was ranked 230th — the lowest score of the entire state congressional delegation).
Nadler however edges Maloney out with progressive credentials — ranking 30th most liberal, to Maloney’s 33rd — according to GovTrack. On Monday Nadler received the endorsement of the ultra left Working Families Party.
A poll last week showed Maloney beating Nadler in the district by 10 points.
The longtime pols remain officially cordial. When asked about a May 19 tweet from her official account which showed an unflattering photo of Nadler dozing off at a Jewish Democratic Council of America gathering, the congresswoman insisted it was not meant to cause any offense.
“That photo was not posted intentionally in anyway to disrespect Representative Nadler,” she said.