Indian American lawyer and businessman narrowly lost to fellow Democrat Rep. Carolyn Maloney in 2020
Indian American lawyer and businessman Suraj Patel is challenging Rep. Carolyn Maloney for a House race for the third time in a row after losing to her twice in New York’s 12th Congressional District.
Patel lost to fellow Democrat Maloney by less than four points in 2020 after losing to her by 20 points in 2018. Maloney, the chair of the House Oversight Committee, is seeking a 16th term in Congress.
Son of immigrant parents from India and former Obama administration staffer, Patel leaned into his upbringing as a child of working-class immigrants in a statement Monday.
“I’m running for Congress because I never give up. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 16 years. This is my home. I’m not going anywhere. I will never stop fighting for the place I love,” he says on his website.
“Democrats need a new generation of leaders,” Patel said in a statement as cited by the Hill. “This is a new decade, a new district, and as we enter year three of a pandemic we’ve got new challenges, which means we need a government that proactively develops 21st century solutions to 21st-century problems. I will solve those problems because I have lived them.”
“I understand what our small business are going through – my earliest memory is stacking newspapers in my [family’s] bodega before my dad went off to his job as an MTA worker and for the last two years, I’ve fought off foreclosures for the family business; making sure workers have healthcare, jobs and landed on their feet.”
Patel, a lecturer on business ethics at New York University, believes the redrawn 12th Congressional District lines will work in his favor.
“I think that the new boundaries fill the district with regular, everyday New Yorkers who have never heard of Carolyn Maloney or never voted for her before,” Patel told NY1.
“Running as pragmatic, pro-science, pro-democracy and pro-growth candidate, I think this new district and the voters who have been added are primed for that kind of appeal.”
The redrawn 12th District will include swaths of Manhattan’s West Side but exclude Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and parts of Astoria, Queens, two neighborhoods with younger, more left-leaning voters.
Patel’s campaign also released internal polling along with the announcement showing Patel winning 37 percent of the vote in a head-to-head with Maloney, while the incumbent gets 41 percent of the vote, according to the Hill.
The 2020 primary ended on a bitter note when Patel sued over the process of counting an unprecedented flood of absentee ballots, urging officials to count ballots that arrived by the deadline but were not properly postmarked. Patel ultimately conceded the race, the Hill recalled.
“When my parents emigrated from India in the late 1960s in search of economic opportunity, we fit three generations of our family in a two-bedroom apartment over the bodega we were running,” Patel recalls on his website.
“My dad got a job working the night shift fixing subway tracks, and eventually, we started a family business in hospitality,” he stated. “I grew up bussing tables, filling vending machines, doing motel laundry, and helping out on construction sites.”
“Together as a family, we lived the American Dream, something that’s nearly impossible in today’s stagnant economy. But when the financial crisis hit, the business that my parents had spent their entire lives building struggled.”
“My parents had worked hard to send us to college, and now we had to step up and guide our family’s hospitality company through immense financial hardship and back to growth,” he stated. “I know what it’s like to make payroll when times are tough. Empty storefronts are not political talking points to me, they’re personal.”
“I’m running again because democracy is under attack across our country, “ Patel stated. “And it’s clear we must fight not just against Republicans, but even Democrats like Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who seek to exploit the system for their own reelections.
“This year I was gerrymandered out of my own district by half a block in the East Village, which to me seems too convenient to be a coincidence,” he stated. “Call me old fashioned, but I like when voters choose their politicians, not when politicians choose their voters.”
“That’s why I’m running again to represent New York’s 12th District. Because I believe our democratic system works best when representatives govern in a way that actually speaks for their community,” Patel stated.