By Carlotta Mohamed
In one of the two closely watched races in the city, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) defeated her Democratic primary rival Suraj Patel and now faces two more opponents in the general election in November.
With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Maloney captured 58.8 percent of votes, while Patel trailed behind with 41.2 percent, according to unofficial results from NY1.
“Thank you to the voters for honoring me with the Democratic nomination for #NY12. I will continue doing all I can to fight back against Trump’s hateful agenda and make sure we take back the House in November!” Maloney said on her Twitter account.
The congresswoman is working to help pass a measure to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program in the House and is also involved in putting together a hearing about the separation of children from families while crossing the Mexico border into the United States.
Maloney, whose district covers part of western Queens, the East Side of Manhattan and a swath of Brooklyn, will be up against Republican Eliot Rabin and Green Party candidate Scott Hutchins in November. She played a key role in bringing federal funding to the city for the construction of the Second Avenue subway and has been a strong advocate of women’s issues in the House.
Patel, a hotel executive, ran a spirited campaign against Maloney drawing on social media to appeal to millennial supporters. He used a dating app in an effort to get out the vote.
Following his defeat, Patel congratulated Maloney on her victory and said he “looks forward to seeing her stand up against the president and fight hard for our city.”
“While we ultimately came up short, I’m proud of the campaign we ran. On the issues, we made it clear that we don’t just need more Democrats, we need better Democrats,” said Patel.”We were the first campaign in New York to call to defund ICE, and stood up for the most marginalized communities in our country. We showed that—even in mid-term primaries—it is possible to engage a new generation of voters and get them involved in the electoral process.”
The race between Maloney and Patel became bitter as viewers watched a televised NY1 debate June 12 when the pair clashed over each other’s points of view on a number of issues.
Both candidates debated the work of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the legalization of marijuana, Maloney’s record on a 1994 crime bill and their positions on the oversaturation of bars in the Lower East Side.
“ICE has been operating with impunity and above the rule of law for years under multiple presidents,” Patel said during the debate. “We made it many years, 200-plus years in this country, without ICE. We can make it another 200 years without them.”
Maloney agreed ICE is “out of control,” but said some type of border patrol is necessary.
“ICE has definitely lost its way,” Maloney said, explaining that the Women’s Caucus in the House has a bill to reorganize and redirect ICE to help rather than deport people. Differences aside, both candidates came to an agreement on some issues. They both supported legalization of marijuana, but Patel added that he supported retroactively releasing people who have been incarcerated for nonviolent marijuana crimes. And they both agreed on capping the opening of new bars in the district, but said the decision should be made by the community.
Patel, 34, who worked on Barack Obama’s president campaign, was part of a new wave of young candidates challenging established Democratic lawmakers in the city. Maloney fought back aggressively against his campaign with mailers, robot calls and rallies.
But U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) was less fortunate. He was ousted from his House seat Tuesday by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old community organizer from the Bronx who was involved in Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha