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Carole King's Candidate vs Russell Simmons' Candidate

Monday, September 13, 2010

WNYC

Singer/songwriter Carole King brought you the song “You’ve Got a Friend.” Hip-hop impessario Russell Simmons brought the song “Walk This Way.” Now, they’re bringing you rival congressional candidates.

King recorded a phone message for Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the nine-term Democratic lawmaker from Manhattan. King touts Maloney’s work on women's issues, the environment, and consumer protection.

“You've got a friend in Carolyn Maloney,” King says in the recorded message. “Be there for her for her at the polls.”

The reference is to King’s classic 1971 song – which was released before Maloney's 34 year-old challenger Reshma Saujani, was born.

Saujani is a lawyer from the financial industry. Russell Simmons is helping her reach out to younger voters.

“I'm calling you today to encourage you to stand up for Reshma Saujani,” he says. “I’m standing up for Reshma because I believe in her.”

Maloney and Saujani are running in the Democratic primary in the 14th congressional district, which is one of the most economically diverse in the country. It stretches from the Upper East Side neighborhood where Mayor Bloomberg lives, to Queensbridge, the largest public housing projects in the country.

The two Democratic primary candidates there are quite distinct, also. Maloney is a nine-term incumbent, liberal lion, and matriarch of Democratic politics on Manhattan’s East Side. Saujani is 34-years-old, raised a boatload of money for John Kerry’s presidential campaign, and has ties to some of the Democratic Party’s top money people, including former DNC finance chairwoman Maureen White and her husband, Steven Rattner.

Maloney and Saujani have inundated voters with not just phone calls, but a barrage of glossy mailers -- a mix of positive ones about their careers, and some negative ones too, with each candidate depicting her opponent as dishonest or tied to special interests.

Maloney has also been running television ads – some even appearing in television screens in the back of NYC taxicabs. Saujani’s videos have mostly been on YouTube and emailed to reporters.

Maloney has the support of the Democratic establishment and a bunch of labor unions. Saujani has support from some younger, newer residents in the district, plus some wealthy Wall Street executives who think Maloney hasn't done enough.

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