Video: First-Time Candidate Challenges Veteran Upper East Side Rep

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Suraj Patel might be about to upset Rep. Carolyn Maloney in the Democratic primary on June 26. Or he might be on the verge of getting trounced. With no reliable polling in the race, it’s impossible to say.

What can be said is that, with $600,000 on hand, Patel has perhaps the best chance of any of the Democratic insurgents running for Congress this year (Joe Crowley, Yvette Clarke, Eliot Engel and Greg Meeks also face primary challenges). That has triggered questions about where all that money came from. It turns out the vast majority came from out of state. The biggest chunk arrived from Indiana, where Patel’s family hotel business is based.

Patel says out-of-state money is always part of the story for candidates from emerging ethnic groups: They pool together the resources they have from the ethnic hubs they can tap into so they can break into the mainstream. Then, their base broadens.

Patel has faced other questions as well: about his lawsuits to knock other candidates off the ballot, about his residency, about the labor record of some of those firms.

He addresses some of those issues in the video below. Whether or not you are convinced by his answers, the thrust of his campaign—that Democrats have lost control of national policy by being too timid, and that Maloney has been unreliable on issues of the deepest principles, like the war in Iraq and the nuclear deal with Iran—raises points that establishment Dems are going to have to respond to, if not in 2018, then certainly in 2020.

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