Suraj Patel is once again challenging long-serving New York Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. Last month, the former campaign staffer for Barack Obama, an attorney and an adjunct professor at the Stern School of Business announced that he is running in 2020 against Maloney, who has served for more than 25 years in the House of Representatives.
Patel, a Mississippi native who grew up in Indiana, represents New York’s 12th Congressional District with a focus on progressive ideals such as the Green New Deal, affordable housing, “Medicare-for-all,” ending mass incarceration and legalizing marijuana, his website says. District 12 includes the east side of Manhattan from the Upper East Side to the East Village, and from Astoria, Queens down to Greenpoint in Brooklyn.
Maloney has been in Congress since 1993 representing the heavily Democratic district, one of the richest in the country.
Patel ran against Maloney in 2018. At the time he had said that he was banking on the support of millennials in the June 26 primary and had claimed that the new generation is desperate to see change.
During the time, the New York Daily News reported about labor violations at hotels owned by his family’s company. There were also reports about Patel claiming a “homestead” tax exemption in Indiana available to residents.” However, the tax exemption “truly was a mistake,” the Politico report said, quoting Patel. Patel’s father founded the hospitality company Sun Development & Management Corp. in Indiana in 1989 and currently manages 32 hotels around the country, according to the company website. Despite the controversy, news reports said Patel received about 17,000 votes in the primary, 8,000 less than Maloney.
According to Buzzfeed, Patel also “made news and drew some heat for campaigning on dating apps like Tinder and Grindr. He called the strategy “Tinderbanking,” which volunteers use to solicit young voters, the Buzzfeed report said. “But this time, Patel said he’ll probably focus on other campaign strategies like arming coffee stands with logoed coffee cups that promote his campaign, holding town halls throughout the district, and sending traditional mailers,” the Buzzfeed report said.
Patel told the Washington Square News that his top policy issue is climate change. “Anybody who’s not talking about climate change — it is the single most important existential threat to the world and to our generation — is derelict in their duty on a daily basis,” Patel told WSN.
In a short video, posted on his website and on his social media platforms, Patel says “simply holding a job doesn’t entitle you to keep it. “You’ve got to deliver.” He goes on to say that the district hasn’t seen “real progress” in the nearly three decades, without mentioning Maloney by name.