Despite his unsuccessful 2018 campaign to primary out U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Upper East Side, Green Point, Long Island City), Suraj Patel has not given up.
The NYU professor, who previously served former President Barack Obama (D) as a campaign staffer, told New York County Politics that the current election cycle offers him greater opportunities to unseat the veteran congresswoman.
“Second time running, you know a lot more about what to expect,” said Patel. “Losing teaches you a lot of things, including humility.”
He proceeded to discuss how the chaos of 2020 gave his campaign more momentum. He cited his team’s work delivering food and supplies to seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic and donating his own blood plasma after recovering from the virus.
Patel also feels that the recent protests, inspired by the police murder of George Floyd, called into question Maloney’s record on racial issues.
“Three years ago when I ran and I talked about her atrocious record on criminal justice reform, she couldn’t even say `black lives matter’,” he said. “It’s a stain on the people in power who had ample opportunity to remedy this problem. This campaign is a change election and we know we can’t get changed by sending the same type of people back to Washington to embody the worst part of the system. Maloney’s record on criminal justice reform in this era is just disqualifying.”
Patel continued to explain what he would do differently to ensure racial justice. “That includes reforming our criminal justice system and ending police brutality,” he said. “It also includes fighting for educational opportunities and mobility for all regardless of the zip code of your birth, the color of your skin, or what year you came to this country.
“I’m still fighting for families, not corporations. The representative has taken millions of dollars in corporate PAC money from the very same company she’s supposed to regulate. It is because of that that so much that comes out of Washington favors corporations and not families.”
When asked about the allegation from fellow challengers Peter Harrison and Lauren Ashcraft that Patel is not a true progressive, and rather a moderate who is to the left of Maloney on only a few issues, he scoffed.
“I don’t need to respond to what they say about me,” Patel asserted. “My experience in this fight is tremendously longer in a lifetime’s worth than theirs. I worked for President Obama in 2008. I’m an attorney. I have taught at NYU. I’ve talked about civil rights and voting rights and taught continuing legal education since the 2012, 2013 era. I respect their thoughts on this race, but I’m the only one in this race that’s the true progressive that has not just come to this issue in the last year or two – and, frankly, that has the track record experience to actually unseat the incumbent.”