Democratic Socialist Rana Abdelhamid Takes On a New York Incumbent

As of Wednesday, another longtime Congress Democrat will face a challenge from the left in a wave that has built up over the past few years. Rana Abdelhamid, a community nonprofit leader and organizer, announced she will take on Democratic Representative Carolyn Maloney at New York Congressional District 12th Elementary School, the second primary challenge the Justice Democrats unveiled for the 2022 cycle after Nashville’s Odessa Kelly .

Maloney, a 28-year-old incumbent and chair of the powerful House Oversight Committee, barely survived her previous primary challenge, gaining 43 percent of the vote in a rematch against Suraj Patel, an attorney and former member of the Obama campaign. She scored a victory, in part because the progressive vote was split between Patel and Democratic socialist Lauren Ashcraft. Now the New York Progressives are making the case that the district is ready to represent in Congress a young political outsider who has seen firsthand economic turmoil.

A member of the Democratic Socialists of America, 27-year-old Abdelhamid is best known for starting a self-defense group for women after she was attacked on the street as a teenager for wearing a hijab. She is one of three candidates in this cycle, along with Kelly and Nina Turner of Ohio, backed by the Justice Democrats, the group that recruited representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman, and Cori Bush. Within 10 hours of launch, their campaign had raised $ 100,000. Patel has said that he also plans to challenge the congressman again next year, but Abdelhamid says he should suspend it. “No one who has challenged Maloney in the past has run a really progressive campaign and contrasted sharply with it,” said Abdelhamid The nation. “And I think I can do it.”

Abdelhamid is primarily concerned with housing policy, including a Green New Deal for public housing, as well as economic and racial justice issues. She notes that the Queensbridge area is home to Houses, the largest public housing project in the country. As she grew up, rising rents forced her family to move several times and even to give up their family business, a delicatessen that her father ran in addition to his second job as a taxi driver.

“Rising rental costs in our neighborhood have also driven us out of our house, and that’s how I got to organize from a class perspective as well as being a Muslim New Yorker after 9/11,” said Abdelhamid. “My neighborhood community was one that was specifically targeted by the NYPD. We had informants in our community centers and mosques, we had stop-and-frisk, we had surveillance and deportations and accidental detentions, and for me a lot of things really got me politicized at a young age. ”

New York’s 12th congressional district includes Manhattan’s Upper East Side and parts of Brooklyn and Queens. It was also one of the few districts that gave Cynthia Nixon strong support in her primary challenge for Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2018.

Outwardly, Maloney is not as conservative as some of the other Democratic incumbents targeted by the left. She is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and touts that she is a “proud longtime supporter” of Medicare for All. But many aspects of her convention career, like her strong support from aggressive police tactics and tough legislation and them opposition The 2015 Iranian nuclear deal has become a political commitment in recent years. Abdelhamid also tries to stand in the case that Maloney, who is the millionaire and cashes out of a number of Corporate interestsdoes not fight for the interests of the workers.

Although it is early in the main season, the democratic establishment is already becoming defensive against this competition. Hours after Abdelhamid’s official campaign start was Jay Jacobs, chairman of the New York State Democratic Committee fired back with an aggressive testimony of their challenge, defending Maloney’s record and drawing on the GOP’s red bait strategy. “Make no mistake,” said Jacobs. “This challenge is not about advanced causes. This challenge is about one thing: power. Maloney has it and the DSA wants it. ”

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