Suraj Patel’s Near Win in NY-12

Suraj Patel’s challenge for Congress in NY-12 surged to a strong finish with in-person voting on Tuesday night. A virtual tie with incumbent Carolyn Maloney paves the way for an upset win once absentee ballots are counted.

Reporting by David Stone

UPDATE: June 25th, 2020

“Tonight, the voters of New York’s 12th District clearly rejected the era of institutional racism, and the divisive politics of the past… Over 58% of New Yorkers have rejected the incumbent’s politics of the past,” Patel said after the polls closed.

Absentee ballot total aren’t expected for at least another week.

For Maloney, Humiliating Rejection

Although she gamely thanked voters for their support, claiming victory, Maloney was soundly rejected, earning only 41.5% of the vote after 14 terms in office.

The only thing saving her from outright defeat was opposition that split three ways. Patel came closest, with nearly 40%, but two little known challengers rang up nearly 20% between them.

The message is clear. Voters in the 12th congressional district of New York want someone, preferably Suraj Patel, to replace Carolyn Maloney.

A more principled candidate would acknowledge the handwriting on the wall and withdraw, but after leading a dirty campaign, Maloney is unlikely to do that.

End of Update

When I met with Suraj Patel, last summer, it was a lot like the first time I met Carolyn Maloney.

Informal. Low key. Impressive.

During her first run for Congress, Maloney set up camp on a Roosevelt Island Red Bus as it circled, greeting voters. The buses were humble and so was Maloney.

One on one, Maloney’s well-liked, and to many of us, she’s just “Carolyn.”

Carolyn Maloney signs petition to save a cat sanctuary
In June, 2018, on Roosevelt Island Day, Carolyn Maloney paused to sign a petition to save a local cat sanctuary.

Keep up: Roosevelt Island News

Meeting Suraj Patel

When he first ran against Maloney in 2018, I met Patel on a campaign visit. Patel’s challenge for NY-12, that year, fell short but by far less than expected.

Unknown to many, he got more votes than any other New York primary challenger, including AOC. His draw was strongest in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, but not enough to overcome Maloney’s strength in her Upper East Side base.

Then, last summer, Patel reached me via email. Another campaign was on his mind, and he wanted my thoughts.

Flattering though that was, we talked about a possible challenge for NY-12 in an over-the-counter pizzeria behind the subway station.

Patel shares with Carolyn a personal easiness. We aren’t friends, but an observer wouldn’t guess that. We chatted, sipped soft drinks and lunched on finger food.

“Yes,” I told him. “Run.”

It’s true we all like Carolyn, one on one, but she’s done little or nothing for us in years.

Related: John Catsimatidis for Mayor of New York?

Introducing Suraj Patel

The Problem with Carolyn

Maloney shows up. Whether it’s Roosevelt Island Day or a Cherry Blossom Festival, she’s there and instantly accessible.

But ask yourself what our NY-12 congressional rep’s done for us lately… Anything? No, I didn’t think so.

The last win for Roosevelt Island she can claim is half-a-million for building FDR Four Freedoms Park.

Yes, that long ago.

In the meantime, she outraged some of us by normalizing Trump, attending his inauguration while other representatives did not.

In previous campaigns, she took cash donations from Trump, and although he’s bragged that every contribution comes with obligations, Maloney refuses to return money she got from him.

More significantly, as we reported in 2018, “Until backing away last year, Maloney supported the debunked claims of anti-vac advocates who claim falsely that vaccinations cause autism. It was a widely discredited view she shared with Trump.”

Even without Suraj Patel’s strong challenge in NY-12, these things make voting for Maloney difficult.

During his 2018 campaign, Patel listened to the concerns of Roosevelt Island legend Roy Eaton.

Which Brings Us To Suraj Patel’s Challenge

In 2018, we encouraged our neighbors to vote for Patel, not only because of problems with Maloney, but because his fresh, intense focus promised the kind of necessary change AOC delivered after her election.

That’s still the same, and his impressive fund-raising tells us we’re not alone in that opinion.

“Patel raised over $370,000 from individuals last quarter whereas Maloney raised over $100,000 from corporate PACs. Patel, who does not accept corporate PAC contributions, has $345,000 cash on hand.”

Cassie Moreno
Patel Campaign Communications Director

For substance, Patel recently posted his Family Opportunity Guarantee proposal. It includes five specific points…

  1. Paid Family and Medical Leave
  2. Medicare for Kids 
  3. Public Option for Child Care 
  4. Nationwide Pre-K
  5. Universal Child Dividend 

Conclusion: Suraj Patel’s Challenge in NY-12

Patel’s second campaign starts out with significant fund-raising and policies geared to impact families. Simply running against an incumbent isn’t enough.

You must have vision. Patel does, and while she might have in the beginning, there’s little evidence Maloney does today.

We need fixers in Washington.

Suraj Patel promises to become one. His time couldn’t be more perfect.

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3 thoughts on “Suraj Patel’s Near Win in NY-12

  1. Suraj Patel bragged to a NY Times reporter about his dishonest Tinderbanking strategy in 2018. Seemed oblivious to an ethical breach which was obvious to nearly everyone else.
    Brazen opportunist. Registered to vote all over the place.

    1. You’re misrepresenting what Patel told the Times. Tinder Banking was a strategy to use the platform to reach a target audience through the app. There was no dishonesty involved, although it was intrusive. He always identified himself and his intention. As for “an ethical breach which was obvious to nearly everyone else,” “everyone else” amounted to exactly four people, and even with that exposure in the widely read Times, Patel ran strongly against an entrenched incumbent with startling issues of her own. Maloney’s appalling leadership in the anti-vaccine movement has never been apologized for and only retracted when challenged in the last election cycle. Candidates aren’t perfect, but I’ll take Tinder Banking, a relatively harmless intrusion, over the life and death perils of championing a dangerous debunked conspiracy theory any day.

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