Hank Gets Frank About the Primaries

By Reuvain Borchardt

Democratic political strategist Hank Sheinkopf

Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran Democratic New York political consultant, spoke with Hamodia following last week’s primary elections, about 2022 and beyond.

Let’s start with New York’s 12th Congressional District race: There were two long-time Democratic incumbents — Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney. Nadler not only won but dominated. Why do you think this happened?

There are several reasons.

Maloney had to organize women and the pro-Israel community. But when Elizabeth Warren endorsed Nadler, that was the end of the women and a lot of the progressives. And when Nadler made the argument that he was the only Jew left in the New York delegation and if he wasn’t elected there would be none, that was the end of the Jewish argument. So Maloney was constrained to the East Side, where the turnout numbers are much less than on the West Side. He ran a much better campaign, a much smarter campaign.

And The New York Times decided, for whatever reason, that only white men should be elected. Nadler was the beneficiary of that. He’s perfect for the Times for his position on Israel, which is at best wishy-washy. Maloney is much more forceful about Israel. Nadler supported the Iran nuclear deal and opposed moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

So it was an easy one for the Times.

Do you feel that Jews on the Upper East Side and Upper West Side went more with the Jewish candidate rather than the pro-Israel candidate?


I think the identity thing was among the smart moves Nadler did. And for the largely uneducated, illiterate Jewish community in New York City, it was an easy one for him. “Jewish” became identified with the guy from the West Side who is a liberal, as opposed to the woman who stood for Israel.

Do you think it’s because those voters don’t care much about Israel, or because they were not aware of the candidates’ positions on Israel?

I think they don’t care much about Israel. I think they’re less Jewishly educated. They’ve created a secular religion of which Israel is a very distant part. Bagels and lox are more important to them than the survival of the Jewish nation.

Maloney accused Nadler of being senile. Do you agree with her?

I think it was a stupid argument to make.

Among the other things that cost her were the Biden comments in the debate, which made her look silly and out of touch, saying that Biden would likely not run in 2024. Why would she say that? What did that add to the discussion? All that did was give Nadler the edge.

And the anti-vaccine issue that came up in the debate, that she was somehow involved in the argument that vaccines cause autism. That was very seriously damaging to her, undermined her credibility, and made her look ridiculous.

Rep. Jerry Nadler (R) speaks with Scott Stringer, former New York City Comptroller, during Nadler’s primary election victory party. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

As you alluded to, The New York Times editorial board endorsed white men in races including NY-12 and NY-10 (Jerrold Nadler and Dan Goldman, respectively) — over candidates who are either female or minority, or both. What do you make of that?

It was obviously a social-class issue.

They endorsed white men, one of whom [Goldman] had absolutely no business in the race, except that he could buy it. The rationalization was that he had been an opponent of Trump, and that Nadler had been an opponent of Trump, and that other endorsements were about opponents of Trump.

Trump became the issue rather than the reality, which was what created Trump — income inequality, which The New York Times has a problem with because it impacts the people who read the paper and it impacts people they would endorse like Goldman, who are more in their social class.

What do you make of allegations that Goldman has ties with the Sulzberger family, and that had something to do with the Times’ endorsement?

Nothing would be surprising. As I’ve told you in the past, decisions about editorial endorsements at this level are ultimately made by the publishers, not by the editors.

Now let’s get into NY-10, which includes Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. Goldman won with around 26% of the vote in a field of a dozen candidates. He was considered the most moderate of the viable candidates. Do you see this as the district not being as progressive as people thought, or that a bunch of progressives split the vote?

The progressives split the vote and Goldman was able to write a check for $4 million to his campaign. And The New York Times endorsed him. That triple combination was hard for progressives to overcome. And despite that, the anti-Israel, anti-cop Yuh-Line Niou nearly won —which tells you about the nature of the district.

And being the one who prosecuted Trump’s impeachment was helpful to him. Trump elected Goldman.

And Trump helped elect Nadler by endorsing Maloney, which for some people would be a bellwether indication that they should vote against her. [Ed.–Trump posted on Truth Social mock endorsements of Maloney and Goldman.]

Oh, come on. Those “endorsements” by Trump were obviously a joke.

It doesn’t matter. People are not that smart. You think they are. They’re not.

If you think Trump’s fake endorsement hurt Maloney, why did it not hurt Goldman?

It might have. The race was very close.

So you think that those mock endorsements by Trump —

—I think anything that Trump touches tends to have an impact. He dominates our social media discussion, he dominates our political discussions, he dominates everything around us. And people are not that bright.

Dan Goldman addresses supporters at his primary election victory party. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

So you think people actually believed he was endorsing those candidates?

I don’t think it’s a large percentage, but in some cases, yes.

We’re not talking about high-information consumers. We’re talking about people who rely on the internet for most of their information.

And people are getting more and more information on the internet. That’s why newspapers are dying.

So Goldman won with around 26% of the vote, which means the overall progressive vote was much higher. What do you think of the possibility that the Working Families Party will give its line in the general election to one of the losing progressives, like Yuh-Line Niou or Mondaire Jones, and the other losing progressives endorse that candidate? Do you think the progressives might do that, to try to get a progressive candidate to win on the Working Families Party line over the moderate on the Democrat line?

It’s hard to see the progressives coalescing around anything because they usually don’t. They’re generally very splintered. If they were disciplined and focused they would have beaten Dan Goldman by unifying behind one candidate. But they didn’t.

Now let’s discuss NY-19, in the Hudson Valley. In a special election, Pat Ryan, the Democrat, defeated Republican Marc Molinaro. Biden had won the district by two points, and now so did Ryan. Ryan focused heavily on women’s rights following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision; Molinaro focused on crime and inflation.What do you make of the results here?

You had a normal Democrat versus a normal Republican. These are not crazies or extremists. But the Dobbs issue was the anchor around Molinaro’s neck. The Republican problem with this issue is pretty clear. If you use this as a template for exurban/suburban districts around the country, Dobbs is the real issue that’s going to weigh Republicans down when there is a centrist contest.

So, looking forward to the 2022 midterms in November, you believe the Dobbs decision will hurt Republicans.


People tend to vote on the hot-button issue at the moment. Watergate in ’74, health care in ’94. There’s a hot-button issue that is driving these numbers. This is about Dobbs.

Trump himself is not on the ballot in 2022. How do you think that will affect the turnout among Republicans and Democrats in November?

Trump is a motivator for turnout among large segments of the Republican voting population. Since he’s not there, we might see lower turnout among Republicans.

Coming up in November in Rockland County, in NY-17, Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney will face Republican Mike Lawler. Biden won that district by 10 points. What do you think about that race?

Maloney has a significant edge.

Now let’s look at the New York governor’s race: A few months ago you told me Lee Zeldin, the Republican, has a chance of winning. Now polls show him trailing Hochul by double digits. What do you think of his chances now?

His chances have declined, because crime is not the issue around the rest of the state. It’s the issue in New York City and its suburbs. But there are other things that are going on. The economic situation is stabilizing. The country appears to be in less chaos. Voting for Republicans in New York is generally response to the chaos.

And the Dobbs decision is a real serious factor for women.

It seems like we’re in a constant cycle of presidential elections; the next one begins almost as soon as the previous one ends. So, looking ahead to 2024, what do you see happening with the Democrats? Is Biden going to run? Will he win?

Never count out a sitting President running for reelection. He’ll make the decision, whatever he wants. And frankly, he’s under limited pressure. He’s in control. If things continue to improve, why shouldn’t he run, no matter the age?

I don’t know of another case in which it felt as much as it does here that a sitting President’s party didn’t want him to run.

It happens. Jimmy Carter in 1980. Harry Truman in 1948.

That’s way before my time, Hank!

Five minutes in politics is 50 years in anything else, my friend.

But in those cases was it because they were bad candidates, or because people said that the person didn’t have the mental acuity for the office?

I’m trying to figure out when was the last time I saw half the people complaining about Joe Biden going to Europe, negotiating a deal and putting 40 nations together in a pact against the Russians.

So you don’t think there’s a mental acuity issue with Biden?

I think anybody who attacks him for stuttering is a swine, and should go see their clergyman to discuss it.

My final question is about New York City: Eric Adams was apparently elected mayor largely because of his tough-on-crime stance. He’s been in office for about eight months and crime is still high. How long will people give him before they start saying that he owns the high crime rates?

Now. It’s starting to happen now. And many people are away in the summer. When they come back, if this continues through the fall, I suspect his public opinion numbers will not be very good come January, February. That, plus the economic issues the city’s going to face are not insignificant. He’s going to have to perform.


This interview first appeared in Hamodia’s Prime magazine.

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