Son of immigrants from India has challenged veteran winner of 14 Congressional contests.
Suraj Patel, a 36-year-old Indian American lawyer is engaged in a nail biting contest with a veteran Congresswoman twice his age in New York’s Democratic primary election.
At the last count, Patel, an activist and lecturer on business ethics at New York University, who worked for former President Barack Obama, was just 648 votes behind Carolyn Maloney, 74, who is in her 14th term in Congress.
Most in person votes in New York’s primary election that concluded June 23 have been counted, but mail in votes that could be as much as half of the total this year due to coronavirus, are still trickling in.
Maloney, who first contested in 1992, told AP she expects her lead to grow when all the ballots are counted.
Patel is equally confident, saying many requests for absentee ballots came from younger voters whose support he expects to win.
“We’re in this race to ensure that the electorate is expanded, that every voice is heard, that every ballot is counted,” Patel told AP in a telephone interview.
“This is a change election,” he was quoted as saying. “Voters in droves rejected a failed status quo, and Carolyn Maloney with it.”
The race between Maloney and Patel is a rematch of the 2018 Democratic primary.
Patel, who had to take a break from the campaign trail after he was infected with the coronavirus, is campaigning on the idea that Maloney hasn’t pushed hard enough for change in Washington.
Meanwhile, according to a report in New York Post, the city Board of Elections has already received more absentee ballots to decide the contest between Maloney and Patel than from constituents who voted in person.
Maloney declared victory after carrying her Manhattan East Side turf she has long represented claiming that her lead will increase substantially when the mail-in votes are counted.
But Patel easily carried the Western Queens and Brooklyn portions of the district with more younger voters – but not by enough to overcome Maloney’s cushion in Manhattan, the Post said.
The Post cited Patel as saying his campaign conducted a robust mail-in ballot operation and held out hope of erasing the deficit when all the ballots are counted.
READ: List of Indian Americans running for Congress in 2018 (January 10, 2018)
Patel who is lagging by just 1.6 per cent of the ballots counted so far with 15, 825 votes to Maloney’s 16,473, has asked the New York State Supreme Court to supervise the counting of votes.
If Patel wins the primary, he is virtually assured of victory in November as he is running from a Democratic stronghold.
He will then join the “Samosa Caucus”, as the quartet of Indian Americans in the House — Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ami Bera, Ro Khanna and Pramila Jayapal — calls itself. They are all expected to retain their seats in November.