By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders
I get a lot of political emails. It seems that I am on everybody’s mailing list. But none more than from 36-year-old Suraj Patel. If the name rings a bell it is because he ran against Carolyn Maloney in the Democratic Party Primary two years ago and did fairly well, winning about 40% of the vote. Undaunted by his defeat, he is challenging Maloney again. In truth, he never really stopped running.
This year the Primary is in June… just four months away. But who is Mr. Patel? And what makes him run? The trend in the Democratic Party starting with Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, now referred to as “AOC” by tabloid newspapers, is for young persons in a big hurry to run for high office. Two years ago, the then-unknown 20-something Alexandra Ocasio Cortez toppled Congressman Joe Crowley, who was an influential veteran of the House of Representatives for 20 years after having served in the State Assembly for over a decade. She has since gone on to become a progressive political rock star and is quoted in the press almost as much as President Trump.
But back to Patel. Like AOC, and actually like Trump, he runs for office having never served a day in his life in government. So clearly one can be elected to an important federal office without first having learned about government from the inside. Some people actually think that is a virtue. And like Donald Trump, Mr. Patel has a lot of experience operating hotels and has made a considerable amount of money. But why is he running against Carolyn Maloney, who is now a 28-year member of Congress and at the height of her influence, having been named Chair of the important Committee on Oversight? He says he has a lot of policy disagreements with Maloney but for the most part they seem to be nuanced and not notable.
Maloney vs. Ocasio-Cortez on Amazon
I quote Mr. Sanders’s column, “Down the Amazon,” T&V, February 21: “…bowing to political pressure from politicians and communities in Queens, Mr. Bezos pulled the plug and backed out of his deal…to build a massive back office complex in Long Island City just a stone’s throw across the East River.”
For his statement to be factual, however, Mr. Sanders should have explained that Amazon’s Long Island City project in is fully within our, read: Hon. Carolyn Maloney’s, Congressional District. Ms. Maloney embraced the project as an opportunity despite its flaws and was distraught while appearing on TV and radio offering her take. She was articulate in explaining that there were no discretionary funds to re-purpose for schools or subways as was somehow suggested.
Instead, a newly elected Congress Member, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, one who spent thousands of dollars on Amazon last year alone, one who is not even in the Congressional District of the project, took credit for its demise:
“Today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers and their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.”
On June 26, New Yorkers cast their votes in a primary that was more eventful than usual due to a handful of upstart Congressional candidates who’d fought hard to unseat veteran lawmakers.
One, who identifies as socialist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, even managed to upset Rep. Joe Crowley, a Democrat representing a district in the Bronx and Queens.
Meanwhile, in Manhattan, 25-year congress member Carolyn Maloney managed to hold on to her seat with wide margins, though not as overwhelmingly wide as usual.
Like with the Crowley race, Maloney’s opponent Suraj Patel tried to paint the incumbent as an establishment politician, out of touch with younger members of the Democrat Party. Ultimately voters in the 12th Congressional District either didn’t agree or didn’t care and re-elected her.