New York State Sen. Gustavo Rivera announced Tuesday that he is backing Queens activist Rana Abdelhamid in her bid to unseat 28-year incumbent Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney – making him the first state legislator to endorse the first-time candidate.
Rivera – a native Puerto Rican who represents the 33rd Senate District in the Bronx – said that Abdelhamid’s life experience and hardships mirrors those of the constituents of New York’s 12th Congressional District, whom she hopes to represent.
“We need leadership at the federal level that truly understands the challenges of everyday New Yorkers,” said Rivera, who chairs the Senate’s Health Committee. “As a daughter of a small business owner, a member of an immigrant family, and a fearless advocate, Rana’s roots and struggles reflect that of so many New Yorkers. She is a natural-born fighter who has already demonstrated her commitment to combating the disparities that plague our communities of color and enacting the change we need from the ground up. Rana’s experience and perspective will be invaluable in Congress and I am proud to endorse her.”
In his endorsement, Rivera joins City Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer and Brad Lander (who is also the Democratic nominee to become the city’s next Comptroller), former New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, as well as the organizing group Justice Democrats, which helped Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez run her first campaign to defeat longtime incumbent Joe Crowley.
“Profits Over People”
Abdelhamid thanked Rivera for his endorsement, crediting him with working to advance universal health care as a policy goal within the Democratic Party.
“Senator Rivera has seen firsthand how too many working-class communities and communities of color have been left behind and taken advantage of by a system that prioritizes profits over people,” said Abdelhamd. “I couldn’t think of a better partner to have in the fight to bring the urgent leadership our communities deserve to NY-12.”
Abdelhamid launched her campaign in earlier this year in April. A 27-year-old Astoria native, Abdelhamid is the daughter of Egyptian immigrant parents. She graduated from Middlebury College in 2015, from the Harvard Kennedy School in 2017, and currently works at Google. She also runs a nonprofit called “Malikah” – meaning “queen” in multiple languages – that works to empower women with self-defense training. She founded the organization after a man tried to rip her hijab off her head when she was a teenager. Early on, Abdelhamid has said her campaign will be focused on affordable housing, racial justice, securing a Green New Deal, and economic security for all.
In addition to Abdelhamid, Queens native Jesse Cerrotti is also running for the seat. Suraj Patel, who has challenged Maloney twice before, has also indicated he will join the race.
Though several candidates are running, Congressional redistricting is expected to take place before the 2022 midterm elections – making it unclear what the districts will look like by the primary.