Saujani Harshly Criticizes Maloney in Radio Debate

The talk of the town following yesterday’s radio debate between Rep. Carolyn Maloney and challenger Reshma Saujani was not the debate itself. Instead, it was on comments by Saujani following the bitter encounter that she might not vote in the General Election if Maloney prevailed in the Democratic Primary.

This morning’s Daily News leads off with the remarks, in which Saujani opined: “I’m a Democrat, I’m a passionate Democrat, [but] I don’t know. I’m going to be honest with you … I might not vote.”   Later, as Democratic Party insiders voiced exasperation,  her spokesman released a statement clarifying the candidate’s position. “Reshma will vote a straight Democratic ticket on November 2nd no matter the outcome of the primary,” it read.

As for the debate, Saujani hit Maloney hard on a wide range of issues, trying to make the case that the nine term congresswoman is out of touch and out of ideas. The lead in today’s Wall Street Journal:

Congressional hopeful Reshma Saujani on Tuesday accused U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a fellow Democrat, of lacking ethics and failing to lead, while the incumbent defended her record “standing up for New Yorkers on one big issue after another.”

The New York Times zeroed in on this especially testy exchange:

(Saujani’s) most caustic line of attack was to call the congresswoman a liar. Ms. Saujani cited Ms. Maloney’s credulity-testing denials that she was personally involved in two of her campaign’s own events at which she raised money from financial industry lobbyists in June, even as she was working on financial services reform legislation. “People are sick and tired of the corruption and lack of ethics and integrity,” Ms. Saujani said. Ms. Maloney seemed to stumble here, saying, “I was not involved in fund-raising,” though she did not deny having attended the two events or that her campaign team, in which she presumably has some role, had arranged them. But she insisted that they had been arranged long before she was appointed to the conference committee that hashed out the financial reform bill, brandished her bona fides on campaign finance reform, and suggested that Ms. Saujani’s heavy backing from Wall Street made her a hypocrite.

In a separate article this morning, the Times looks at Saujani’s links to Wall Street, saying she has emerged as “a national voice for an industry that felt besieged, blamed and battered after the banking collapse.”   The article suggests she is now backing away from this role:

…even in the financial capital that is New York, where the industry helps drive the economy and provides a sizable portion of the tax revenues, (the) strategy appears to be misfiring. By Tuesday, in her debate against Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, … Ms. Saujani had not only muted her defense of Wall Street, but also called for tougher regulation of the industry. And she sounded downright stung as she described the demonizing of financial executives. “Thousands of people who work in the financial services industry live in our district,” Ms. Saujani, 34, a former lawyer for several hedge funds, said during the debate with Ms. Maloney, 64, the veteran congresswoman for the East Side of Manhattan and parts of Queens. “Are we all bad people? Do none of us have a right to run for office?”

There is some good news for Saujani this morning. After winning the Daily News’ endorsement a few days ago, the New York Observer came out in support of her insurgent candidacy today:

A 34-year-old hedge-fund lawyer named Reshma Saujani has emerged as a refreshing, energetic alterative to Ms. Maloney. We support her bid to unseat the incumbent as the Democratic Party’s nominee in the 14th District. Ms. Saujani is the sort of Democrat who understands that faux populism won’t bring back jobs to New York. Ms. Maloney jumped on the bandwagon to “punish” Wall Street after the catastrophes of the last two years, supporting job-killing regulation and interference. Ms. Saujani, who has worked for three hedge funds, has a more sophisticated understanding of the relationship between Wall Street and government. She believes New York and the nation will prosper when politicians stop blaming bankers and financial institutions for the country’s economic malaise. Carolyn Maloney has been a capable if unspectacular member of Congress for nearly 20 years. It’s time to bring new energy and fresh ideas to the House. Democrats should choose Reshma Saujani.

If you would like to listen to the Maloney/Saujani debate in its entirety, click here. Also, have a look at what both candidates had to say as they left WWRL Radio yesterday:

The Democratic Primary takes place next Tuesday. Maloney represents the 14th Congressional District, which includes a portion of the Lower East Side.

  • NYWaller

    For the life of me – I can’t figure out what Saujani really believes. Saujani complains that her opponent took money from Wall Street. If taking money from Wall Street is bad – then how is it not bad that Saujani – a life time hedge fund lawyer – got far more money from Wall Street? Current totals at OpenSecrets.org show that this election cycle, Reshma got $312 K from securites and investment firms while Maloney got $172 K. And at the same time – Reshma complains that her opponent was too rough on Wall Street. Does Saujani listen to herself? She is sounding more and more like one of the crazies from GlenBeckistan.