U.S. Representatives Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, along with attorney Suraj Patel, are neck-and-neck in the race to be the next congress member of newly formed congressional District 12 in Manhattan ahead of the Aug. 23rd primary.

An Emerson College Polling/Pix11/The Hill poll finds that Nadler is leading the race with Maloney right behind and Patel following in third place. According to the poll, 17% of voters are currently undecided. District 12 voters, said the poll, said that guns and crime are the most important issue for them in the race. After that, abortion rights and same-sex marriage are their determining issues. 

In Tuesday’s congressional debate on Pix 11, Nadler, Patel and Maloney were in agreement on quite a few subjects. They all unequivocally supported abortion rights, “packing the court” with more Supreme Court justices, federally funding a crackdown on gun violence and gun control, and implementing congestion pricing. 

And, in a turnaround from last week, all candidates said they would support President Joe Biden in his reelection campaign in 2024 when Nadler and Maloney had shown real hesitation in a prior debate. Despite Biden’s approval rating in District 12, voters in the district are “nearly split” about him being the Democratic nominee for president in 2024.

“I wish I didn’t have to run against my longtime friend and colleague, Congresswoman Maloney, but I’ve been in competitive primaries before and this is nothing new,” said Nadler, 75, ahead of Tuesday’s debate on Pix 11. “I’m very glad to have the chance to speak to New York voters—on both the East and West sides—and I’m feeling very good about my chances of winning reelection.”

Nadler criticized the congressional redistricting process, in which Democrats in trying to gain power have thrown other Democrats for a loop by changing their districts. Nadler said that there was no doubt that the legislature “overreached.” He said the redistricting process is in desperate need of reform and has supported legislation in Congress that would ban gerrymandering and take politics out of redistricting. 

“My vision of NY-12 is one that I’ve been fighting for throughout my entire career: a New York City with green parks, efficient public transportation, affordable housing, and streets safe from the threat of gun violence. I’ve worked relentlessly to turn this vision into reality in Congress and you better believe I’m not done yet,” said Nadler in a statement.

In the debate, Nadler said that “seniority brings clout” and experience is essential to getting laws passed. Nadler currently chairs the House Committee on the Judiciary. He said it would be devastating if New York lost two committee chairs because of the race. 

Patel, 38, is a bit of a wildcard as a younger, progressive of color in the race. When the Amsterdam News caught up with him, he was busy with his pre-debate workout routine, he said. 

“I lift weights before any debate or forum. I’m a big believer in endorphins and mental clarity,” said Patel.

Patel said he feels like the energy and momentum in the race is leaning his way with an “absolutely electric feeling out there for change.” Patel’s main push in the race is for generational change or “fresh” leadership, jabbing at his opponents who have both been congress members for decades and are in their seventies. He said in the debate that in all that time neither Nadler nor Maloney could codify Roe v. Wade in terms of abortion rights or same-sex marriage rights.

Patel said he’d be honored to be a person of color to represent a majority white district in Manhattan, outside of Harlem, and one of the few South Asian representatives.  

“This is not a time for rookies,” said Maloney, 76, in Tuesday’s debate. “This is a time for our best team going forward to combat an extreme Supreme Court.”

Maloney chairs the United States House Committee on Oversight and Reform. She said in the debate that in her time in Congress she has accomplished many things, including building the 2nd Avenue subway. She hopes to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment if she returns to Congress.

Maloney couldn’t be reached directly for comment by post time. 
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w

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