Dem Rep. Maloney Bests Unconventional Primary Challenger

UNITED STATES - JUNE 6: Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., speaks during a news conference at the House Triangle on the need to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment on June 6, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Group

Rep. Carolyn Maloney handily won the Democratic primary Tuesday in the New York City congressional district she’s represented for 25 years, fending off a challenge from unconventional progressive opponent Suraj Patel.

The New York Times and Associated Press called it for Maloney at around 10: 20 PM ET. She earned 58 percent of the vote with 87 percent of the votes counted.

NY-12, which covers much the East Side of Manhattan plus upscale neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, is the wealthiest congressional district by per capita income, known for its dismal primary turnout.

Those circumstances gave an advantage to incumbent Maloney, who campaigned on her years of experience on Capitol Hill and focused on New York-specific issues like securing funds for the 9/11 Health Compensation Act and Second Avenue Subway.

Patel—a hotel executive, former Obama campaign staffer, and NYU business ethics professor—argued that it was time for a change of leadership and for New York City’s leaders to move left to meet their voters. One notable policy position was a call for Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to be defunded.

But despite raising over $1 million, Patel’s quirky campaign never got much traction. It was hampered by questions over his voter registration, which he has switched multiple times over the past few years, and his self-consciously hip get-out-the vote methods. Those included handing out campaign-branded condoms and courting voters through bogus profiles created on dating apps like Bumble and Grindr.

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