When she launched her congressional campaign at a Little Egypt coffee shop on Steinway Street in April 2021, Astoria community organizer Rana Abdelhamid took on 14-term Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney who has represented western Queens for nearly three decades.
Just over a year later, Abdelhamid suspended her primary challenge Tuesday after congressional redistricting torpedoed her campaign by erasing her Muslim and Arab “community of interest” from the District 12 map in mid-May.
“After nearly two years of putting together this effort, this was a very difficult decision to make. But because my community and I were cut out of our district, we were left with no other choice,” Abdelhamid said. “I want to first take time to thank my team, our incredible volunteers, our movement allies, my amazing community in Queens that rallied behind me, my husband, my mom and dad and all our incredible grassroots supporters.”
The Justice Democrats threw their support behind Abdelhamid, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America hoping to repeat the success that followed Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s stunning primary upset of Joe Crowley in June 2018. Her campaign got to work making more than 100,000 phone calls and her 700 volunteers raised nearly $1 million from more than 11,000 donors.
“For a community with no representation in New York City politics, for a community that was harassed and profiled by law enforcement for years, a community that continues to be gentrified, whose story is barely told, this glimpse of representation was a dream,” Abdelhamid said. “We surpassed everyone’s expectations. We built a winning campaign and I am committed to continuing to organize alongside our coalition and progressive leaders for a more equitable and just New York City, especially on issues of safety and housing.”
After she was assaulted for wearing her hijab at age 16, Abdelhamid launched Malikah, a nonprofit that builds power for women and girls from marginalized backgrounds through self-defense, healing, organizing and financial literacy. Growing up, rising rent and poor housing conditions forced her family to move six times before she was 9 years old.
“Rana is a Queens kid, like myself, and a child of working-class Egyptian immigrants. She has spent the last decade organizing across New York City to fight against gentrification, supporting small businesses, and addressing challenges of food insecurity before and during the pandemic,” Astoria Councilwoman Tiffany Cabán said. “Rana’s movement demonstrated that there is, without a doubt, a real appetite for a new generation of bold leadership for our country — leadership that’s multiracial, that’s working class and that’s led by the most marginalized among us.”
For now, Abdelhamid’s movement is on hold.
“The relationships and infrastructure we’ve built through this campaign is powerful — and we’re not stopping here,” Abdelhamid said. “While the historic communities of interest in Queens become divided with these new maps, I still feel that our power comes from people coming together across our beautiful differences for a vision of justice and shared prosperity.”
But she emphasized that this is not the end of her activism and political career.
“When the opportunity presents itself, we will be more ready than ever to achieve the electoral representation we deserve because we’ll have the infrastructure and the power behind us. It is this power that gives me — and all of us — the strength to know that it is not the end of our time in politics, but only the beginning. We have a lot of work to do.”