Shortly after graduating from Yeshiva University in 2007, Oliver Rosenberg's political convictions began to shift.
Rosenberg had been a registered Republican since he was 19 and living in Los Angeles. But having come out as a gay man while at Yeshiva, Rosenberg found that his values were increasingly out of sync with the Republicans, and more aligned with those of the Democratic Party. What had been a gradual process would turn into an epiphany by the end of 2009, when his party allegiance would shift once and for all. Rosenberg was 24.
Or so goes Rosenberg's public narrative, gleaned through interviews with the candidate, his staff and through the website he has set up for his campaign to unseat Jerrold Nadler, the 12-term congressman from the Upper West Side, in the June 28 primary.
Public records, however, reveal a more nuanced progression for the 30-year-old Rosenberg. For instance, although Rosenberg's communications director, Curtis Ellis, said Rosenberg's affiliation with Republicanism was little more than “a youthful indiscretion,” records show that Rosenberg's initial voter registration, in 2004, as a Republican in Los Angeles, remains active. A spokesman for the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder's/County Clerk's office confirmed on Wednesday that Rosenberg remains registered as a Republican.
And while Ellis said that Rosenberg — whose full name is Mikhail Oliver Rosenberg — had not voted in California since before 2008, a certified document from the Los Angeles County Registrar's office shows that Rosenberg voted in Los Angeles on Nov. 6, 2012.
Rosenberg first registered to vote in New York in January 2008, as a Republican, and voted in the state's February 2008 primary as well as in that year's November general election. He also voted here, still registered as a Republican, in 2010's November general elections.
He switched his New York voter registration to Democratic in August 2012, a change that would not officially take place until after that year's November general election. That year, though, he voted in Los Angeles, as a Republican.
Numerous attempts to speak with Rosenberg about his party affiliation have been unsuccessful. The New York County Democratic Committee also did not respond to questions about Rosenberg's Republican affiliations.
Rosenberg, a banker with JP Morgan Chase at the time, contributed $10,000 to the Obama Victory Fund 2012, a joint fundraising committee that funneled contributions to President Obama's primary and general election campaigns and to the Democratic National Committee.
He next voted in 2014's general election, in New York, the first time he cast a ballot as a Democrat. He did so after signing an affidavit stating that he was qualified to vote in his Manhattan district, which was required since his registration here became inactive after he had submitted an address change noting a Los Angeles post office box.
In April, he cast his first vote in a New York primary as a Democrat.
Rosenberg, in an earlier interview, said the catalyst for his District 10 primary run against Nadler, who has not faced a primary contest since 1998, was the congressman's support for the Iran nuclear accord negotiated between the U.S. and five other countries and Iran. Nadler, who also lives on the Upper West Side, was the only Jewish Democrat from New York's congressional delegation to vote in favor of the nuclear deal, which some insist threatens Israel.
To get on the primary ballot, Rosenberg, among other things, needed to submit a petition with 1,250 valid signatures from Democratic voters; he turned in 6,500.
The 10th District sweeps from the Upper West Side to downtown on the west side and into the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Red Hook, Sunset Park and Bensonhurst. The district comprises a liberal constituency by any measure.
And Rosenberg's platform is decidedly liberal. Just as he is staunchly pro-Israel, Rosenberg says he wants to address income inequality by closing corporate tax loopholes, making public university education free, and promoting universal childcare and pre-K programs.
He also wants to push to reverse the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, liberalize immigration policy and address climate change by, among other steps, investing in clean energy. He also supports legalizing marijuana, which he said would open up a slew of business opportunities as well as increase tax revenue. He is equally determined to advocate for the LGBTQ community.
Regardless, Nadler will prove a formidable incumbent to unseat, particularly in a primary election in late June, when interest — and voter turnout — is likely to be low,
First elected in 1992 to represent Congress' 8th District, Nadler, the second-most senior member on the House Judiciary Committee and a prominent figure on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and a solid liberal, has plowed through Republican opponents ever since, including following two redistricting efforts.
Rosenberg, whose campaign website proclaims him as “progressive, innovative, the change we need,” is hoping to change history.