Rep. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney are all eyes on the race to represent Manhattan’s reorganized 12th congressional district. These legislators are now at odds with each other after the reorganization of the combined Upper East Side and Upper West Side districts. But in the shadow of the two senior lawmakers is President Barack Obama’s attorney and former campaign staffer Suraj Patel, who is trying to win his third straight seat. In the last two election cycles, Patel has challenged Maloney for the Old 12th District. After a crushing defeat in 2018, 2020 came even closer. Now, with Nadler and Maloney beating it out, Patel has marketed himself as a new alternative to his two congressmen, who have collectively served in his 60 years of parliamentary service.
Patel, who was seen as a long-shot contender early in the race, has made some splashes recently, making it clear he may have a chance. A recent internal poll put him at 25% of the vote, well short of either Nadler or Maloney at around 30%, which his campaign announced Patel had at 19%. It was an increase from the last poll that did. And he proudly appeared in the campaign’s first televised debate on Tuesday night, recognizing himself as the only candidate to voice his support for President Joe Biden’s re-election in 2024. highlighted. Before early voting began, Patel spoke to City & State about his debates, his performance, lessons learned from past races, and why he’s winning the 12th congressional district this year.
The debate on Tuesday night was lively. How did it feel to be on stage with both Maloney and Nadler?
These are very experienced veterans and we took it very seriously. But look, this is a very typical situation of two radically different arguments. There, her two candidates present arguments about the past. And inevitably they will have to defend the present. They are now basically taking credit for the state of the country, the economy, inflation, livability, everything that affects New Yorkers every day. Proposing plans for the future. And that inevitably makes it a truly unique opportunity for viewers to get a stark contrast.
At that stage, you were the only one who said you supported re-election from President Joe Biden and accused your opponents of ageism for doing so. Given that you’re accusing two of his longtime incumbents of ageism, do you find that statement ironic?
Throughout my (campaign) and you can see all the records on the planet, I never once said about Maloney and Nadler’s age. The fundamental difference between Bidens is that Joe Biden was effective. The president is effective. He was able to beat Donald Trump in a way like no other. It is his prerogative as the leader of our party to decide if and when he will run for re-election. Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler tried to gerrymander their district and use its power to further their power and extend their tenure. So my argument against them is total effectiveness and lack of planning for the future.President Biden has a plan. Carolyn Maloney and her Jerry Nadler don’t even have a planning page on her website. Basically, being in Washington that much and being away from everything puts you out of touch. The only ageist thing about this campaign is that Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler are 38-year-olds who are engaged, have families, have mortgages, and are lawyers working in the public and private sectors. to suggest a person (that is, he is somehow ineligible or too young to hold an office for which the Constitution itself prescribes twenty-five years as an age.
Neither explained why they did not support Biden’s re-election positively. Why did you conclude that it was ageism?
First, it was a yes (or) no question. And they were confused, so they said no. And I don’t think what I’m saying is a logical leap when, in history, one party, whether it’s Republicans or Democrats, has never switched to a midterm election cycle after completing a term for another. The zeitgeist that straddles the RNC and the Washington Examiner, or what some call the right-wing media, is anticipating Biden’s age and ability to run this office when we see him as effective as he can be in a rebellious Congress. It was about ability. I don’t think it’s a logical leap.
Now in his third campaign, Nadler has a new opponent. How have your past campaigns prepared you for this one, and do you think it’s tougher now that you’re going up against two of his long-term incumbents instead of just one?
i don’t know about it I think we’re running this race because we know that the vast majority of people want new, new leadership, fresh, practical, principled leadership. My first of his two campaigns was to learn a lot of lessons, learn humility and apply some of those lessons to run the campaign more effectively and efficiently. Prepared me from the point of view. You’ll notice someone like Ro Khanna, for example, who after being very close made his third run and won the third dominant victory. Running these races will increase your notoriety. But basically, our polls show exactly why we win this race.In the case of Maloney and Nadler, the voter base that prefers someone with seniority experience wants new leadership. Divided into two people and two… only one game in town.
In recent polls, you were pretty close. After doing better in the old neighborhood of Queens, how did you make your way into the newer parts of the West Side neighborhood and even the East Side of Manhattan?
Now, this New York 12 still has 20,000 to 23,000 votes two years ago, and it’s not zero at all. So the majority of the 38,000 votes were from Manhattan due to the density nature of that part of the district, as they did in Queens and Brooklyn from a margin standpoint. not a start. And now, in the West, they enthusiastically introduce themselves to voters. I think reporters often look at this from the perspective or lens of two chairs, seniority, incumbents, etc. Voters do not. Brand new district so people get this as a new district. Yes, the number is 12, but it’s basically a new district. In many ways, this new district has no incumbents.
What occupies your time between cycles when you’re not running for public office?
The first thing to remember is that the last election took three months and was not voter fault in the subsequent federal lawsuit to count ballots that were voided due to Post Office error. is. So I took the fight to court and won a federal injunction that most people thought would never get more than 1,200 votes. New York law was changed to add a giant red box that said, “Sign here.” And like many New Yorkers, I say this, I have to work. My family has faced foreclosure, foreclosure due to the pandemic. And I solved it. We made sure every employee got paid, got health care, and came out on the other side. So from a professional standpoint, it’s actually been a very difficult year for me personally. And I remained very active in civic affairs. In short, I have to actually work, so I did a lot of what I had to do both civilly and frankly professionally.
Do you mean your family’s hotel or hospitality business?
yes. Let me just say here that there are many misconceptions about this company. As a matter of fact, it is a family owned business that was built from the ground up and is still running today. (It is) much smaller than it once was. Because after the financial crisis we faced multiple foreclosures etc. It was a really tough time. In fact, I just cut my teeth on the economy, which is settling foreclosure after foreclosure. It also colors my view of the effectiveness of DC politicians who have no idea how the economy works. And coming out of COVID has been a really difficult time for many people, including New York City. Uninteresting.
After 20 days, do you feel that the third time is attractive?
Momentum won the election and it’s happening right now. The reason we have it is because the debate I’ve been having for three years now has its time.People are ready for change, ready for new leadership to come out of the pandemic. I am very confident on my way to victory. I believe our polls. We’ve nailed it in the past. And when Election Day arrives, we know that the greatest upset in American political history is about to unfold.