In the final, blistering days leading up to the Democratic primary election for New York’s newly redrawn 12th congressional district, that pits longtime incumbents Rep. Carolyn Maloney, from the Upper East Side, and Rep. Jerry Nadler, from the Upper West Side, against each other– along with a third challenger, Suraj Patel– the candidates were asked by Upper East Site to give voters their ‘elevator pitch.’ Ninety seconds to explain why they should be your choice when you head to the polls on Tuesday
Patel focused on his age as a defining characteristic and source of strength. He told Upper East Site that “generational change” is “desperately” needed in the district, and in Congress at large.
“We face a different set of challenges” than the city did “in the 1990s when my opponents were elected,” Patel said. The 38 year old is eager to ease the city’s “7.5 percent unemployment rate, which is almost two and a half times the national average.”
Patel calls for “people who have been in the private sector and the public sector, who know how to stop home foreclosures, to come back and bring the city back. And because of that, I’m fighting for our democracy.”
Nadler, 75, began his pitch by noting that he and Maloney had experience in Congress, and that “with seniority comes clout. Either of us can get a lot more done, and bring a lot more resources back to the district than any freshman.” Nadler chairs the House Judiciary Committee; Maloney chairs the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
Nadler went on to say that “Suraj, no matter how talented he may be,” would not be able to deliver the same results as either he or Maloney would.
Maloney, 76, started her pitch by addressing her platform. “Many of the issues that I’ve fought for my whole life have been shredded by the Supreme Court, and I want to go back and fight to restore women’s rights to choose, gun safety laws, protect[ing] our environment.”
Like Nadler, she brought up her previous experience in Congress, stressing, “I have a record to run on.” She listed her involvement in several important projects, such as the Second Avenue Subway, the East River Esplanade, and the L train connection to Queens. She also cited some of her legislative accomplishments, including the Debbie Smith Act, which provides funding for the DNA analysis of backlogged rape kits; and her continued efforts to expand access to affordable housing.
Patel commented on previous liberal efforts in Congress, saying, “the Democrats have lost every major battle from climate change to abortion to gun control, to [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell and the Republicans.”
Explaining what is needed to fix this, he said, “We need some folks in there to fight for our rights,” and “I’m fighting for our democracy.”
Maloney was also determined to fight, saying “I’ve worked hard for the people. I want to continue working hard for the people. I never give up, I never give in.”
For his part, Nadler’s pitch was more focused on comparing his voting record with Maloney’s, which The New York Times cited, without specificity, in its endorsement of him.
“She voted for the Iraq War, I voted against it. She voted for the Patriot Act, I voted against it. She voted against the Iran [nuclear] Deal, I voted for it.” He said he took these “hard votes” because he’s a “principal progressive,” and that the politicians and institutions that support him realize that.
He mentioned his recent endorsement from The Times, as well as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, and “every elected official on the West Side, because they all know me.”
Nadler ended his pitch by saying that the East and West Sides are very similar, and that he is “excited for the opportunity to represent the East Side, as well as the West Side.”
Patel concluded that the district needs a representative that spends more of their time in the city, and not in Washington. He believes he can speak on “the reality of everyday New Yorkers,” because “I spend my time in this district on the streets.”
Maloney, who was interviewed at an event at Wagner Middle School, wrapped up her pitch by saying that “we need to continue the East Side leadership and the East Side work that we’ve done together for the neighborhood and improving the economy.”
Standing a little bit straighter, she said that everyone should vote “as if your life depended on it — because it really does.”