April 28, 2022 By Allie Griffin
Suraj Patel who is running to represent the 12th Congressional District will remain on the ballot despite an attempt by an opposing candidate to kick him out of the race.
Rana Abdelhamid, who is also running for the seat, called for him to be tossed out of the race on the basis that the required signatures he collected to get on the ballot were invalid. She challenged their validity with the Board of Elections and filed a lawsuit in state court.
The Board of Elections ruled that Patel had met the required number of signatures race despite Abdelhamid’s objections.
Patel submitted a petition with 3,217 signatures, well over the 1,250 signatures required in order to get on the ballot for a Congressional seat. However, Abdelhamid argued that 2,091 were invalid — leaving him 124 signatures short of the requirement.
Abdelhamid and her campaign claimed that the majority of the 2,091 New Yorkers who signed Patel’s petition weren’t registered to vote or lived outside District 12. Others, they argued, were not registered Democrats.
However, the BOE determined that Patel — who is vying for the seat for a third time — had enough valid signatures to be in the primary.
Abdelhamid’s lawsuit was also rejected by a New York Supreme Court judge — although it had nothing to do with the validity of the signatures. The judge dismissed the case due to the uncertainty of the upcoming primaries, stemming from a Court of Appeals ruling that called for the electoral maps to be redrawn.
Patel’s campaign denounced Abdelhamid’s attempt to disqualify him as “desperate”, “undemocratic” and “dirty” and accused her of “Trumpian voter suppression tactics”.
“The efforts we saw this week by Rana Abdelhamid’s campaign were nothing more than a desperate, undemocratic attempt to disenfranchise 37,000+ voters who supported Suraj Patel in 2020, and the thousands who signed petitions for him just weeks ago,” Patel’s campaign manager Emmet Werbel said in a statement.
Werbel said Abdelhamid’s campaign was trying to silence the New Yorkers who signed petitions for Patel and claimed the majority of the signatures she challenged were those of Black and brown voters.
“It is unacceptable that any Democrat would try to further erode the bedrock of our democracy by trying to deny voters the ability to elect the change that our campaign represents,” Werbel said. “If you want to win, win at the ballot box through the power of persuasion of your ideas, not by deny [sic] voters a choice.”
Abdelhamid’s campaign, however, told the Queens Post that Patel’s team took short cuts in gathering the signatures—by farming them out to paid canvassers—and that they were within their rights to challenge them.
“The attacks against our campaign are completely baseless, and Suraj Patel should know better than to call a valid challenge to a candidate’s signatures undemocratic,” her campaign manager Ben Shanahan said. “Our team was proud to do the hard-nosed, grassroots work of collecting thousands of signatures from voters in New York’s 12th district”
Her campaign also took exception to being compared to Trump.
“Rana has spent a majority of her life fighting for working class people and people of color in this district,” Shanahan said. “For Suraj Patel to compare the only Muslim woman in this race to the author of the Muslim ban, and someone who has time and time again made racist and derogatory statements against Arab and Muslim communities, is wildly offensive, untrue, and completely unacceptable.”
Her campaign also noted that in 2018 Patel challenged his competitors’ petitions.
For instance, in 2018, he argued that an opposing Democratic candidate, Sander Hicks, had invalid signatures that made him short of the required 1,250, according to the Manhattan publication Town & Village. The court agreed and Hicks was disqualified from the primary for being 110 names short.