Rajkumar leads incumbent Miller in western Queens Assembly race

Photo courtesy of Jenifer Rajkumar for New York

Jenifer Rajkumar is “honored” to receive the support from voters as she holds a strong lead in the primary race against incumbent state Assemblyman Mike Miller to represent District 38. 

With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Rajkumar secured 49.47 percent percent of the votes, while Miller obtained 24.51 percent, according to unofficial results from the New York City Board of Elections (BOE).

While the results are not final — the BOE will begin counting absentee ballots on Tuesday — Rajkumar said things are “looking good” her campaign.

“I’m honored that we secured victory in every neighborhood in the district,” Rajkumar told QNS. 

Rajkumar, an Indian-American lawyer from Woodhaven, is a progressive candidate running to be the only member of South Asian descent to represent New York City in the state Legislature. The 38th Assembly District includes Woodhaven, Ridgewood, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park and Glendale. 

In addition to her experience as a lawyer for a public interest law firm and a law professor at CUNY, she previously worked under Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the director of immigration affairs and special counsel for the New York Department of State.

Rajkumar’s opponent, Miller, has been in office since 2008. His resume includes numerous community posts from the Ridgewood community board to an administrator for the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council. 

Miller is trailing Rajkumar, but remains ahead of Joseph DeJesus, a second challenger who has 20.89 percent of votes. 

DeJesus is a poet, editor and CUNY adjunct lecturer, who describes himself as a “queer nightmare to the political establishment of New York state.” 

“We ran a race on principle, financed by the will and the word, Jenifer Rajkumar and Mike Miller weaponized hundreds of thousands of corporate dollars to deny the people our victory,” DeJesus said. “Jenifer’s early lead is a win for the corporate powers to whom her campaign is indebted: racist landlords at Castellan Real Estate, Racist war profiteers at Raytheon, racist prison-builders at MONPAT, her current lead proves that electioneering works and elections can be bought.”

Both Rajkumar and DeJesus ran campaigns to achieve their goals of making change by bringing more resources to their communities focusing on housing, immigration, criminal justice, transportation and education. 

Rajkumar said she decided to run for office to “represent those who need a voice, to give a voice to the marginalized, to help immigrant communities navigate America, and help all hardworking families reach their dreams and aspirations.”

According to Rajkumar, she knew a win was possible because the district was ready for a change. She picked up the endorsement of Councilman Ben Kallos and the New American Voters Association, among others.

Throughout her campaign she knocked on doors to speak with voters before the coronavirus pandemic and then made calls. 

On March 15, her campaign completely stopped field operations and turned into a 24/7 coronavirus response hotline for south Queens neighbors operating in Spanish, Bengali, Punjabi, Hindi and Albanian. 

“I am grateful for the confidence and faith that the voters put in me, and I look forward to bringing strong energetic leadership to my district,” Rajkumar said.

Miller’s office did not respond to QNS’s request for comment.