Battle Of Insiders: Two young Indian-Americans trying to unseat fellow Democrat

Candidate for the 2022 Democratic primaries Aug. 23, 2022, Suraj patel, who is challenging incumbent Rep. Carolyn Maloney. Photo:

Suraj Patel, an Indian-American attorney in New York, is making yet another attempt to unseat long-time Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, seeking the Democratic Party nomination for the U.S. Congress from District 12, in the August 23, 2022 primaries for Congressional and State offices.

Patel, ( is one of four Democrats trying to unseat Maloney, including another Indian-American, Ashmi Sheth (, as well as Mike Fitzgerald and Vladimy Joseph.

Maloney was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992, and is far ahead in fundraising. Both Patel and Sheth have highlighted their immigrant backgrounds and dwelt on their parents stories of success during their campaigns.

“I’m running for Congress because Democrats need a new generation of leaders – leaders who will stand up for science, safety, and our democracy,” Patel claims on his campaign website Former candidate for the Presidential race, businessman Andrew Yang, has endorsed Patel.

Patel alleges that District 12 was gerrymandered “to specifically remove young and Latino voters.”

“I’m running for Congress because I never give up. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 16 years. This is my home. I’m not going anywhere. I will never stop fighting for the place I love,” Patel add.

However, Maloney who has championed causes dear to the hearts of Indian-Americans including a Diwali stamp, Congressional recognition for Mahatma Gandhi, and immigration issues affecting Indians, as well as U.S.-India relations, is popular in the community and her name recognition is predictably high.

A lecturer on business ethics at NYU, Patel says when his parents emigrated from India in the late 1960s in search of economic opportunity, “three generations of our family lived in a two-bedroom apartment over the bodega we ran,” and his father got a job working the night shift fixing subway tracks, eventually starting a family business in hospitality.

“I grew up bussing tables, filling vending machines, doing motel laundry, and helping out on construction sites,” he adds, “Together as a family, we lived the American Dream, something that’s nearly impossible and too difficult today.”

After this family business faced immense hardship but recovered from the financial crisis, he said, he went into politics helping the Obama presidential campaign and being part o the White House Advance Team, and then a full-time organizer.

He first challenged Maloney in 2020, but points out he lost by a mere 3 percentage points. He hopes to do better this time round.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY. Photo

“Over 100,000 New Yorkers voted in the 2020 Democratic primary election. And even in the midst of a pandemic – our campaign drove record turnout and brought a thirty-year incumbent down to 42% of the vote,” Patel notes.

Patel went to court over the allegedly uncounted votes, but to no avail.

“Since then I kept fighting for electoral reform, advocated for making the enhanced child tax permanent, and went back to work to help manage a pandemic stricken hospitality business amidst foreclosures,” he said.

Patel graduated from Stanford University with a Political Science degree and went on to do his MPP from Cambridge University and law from NYU School of Law. He is admitted to the New York Bar since 2011.

Ashmi Sheth, 2nd from right, with her parents and sibling as well as her fiance Shivam,2nd from left. Photo:

Ashmi Sheth, a public policy graduate from Columbia University and supporter of Medicare For All, who worked for big banks and as a policy writer and supervisor.

Her video on the campaign website speaks of her parents immigrating to the U.S. and living under trying economic circumstances financially. They came from Mumbai. Sheth currently lives in the Hell’s Kitchen area in Manhattan, according to media coverage, she suffers from fibromyalgia and “fights for disability rights.”

Her agenda includes, “regulating big banks at the Federal Reserve and advocating for small business protections on the Hill, to building climate resiliency products and movements for minority rights,” she says, “I have the experience to bring new progressive ideas to Congress.”

Her positions on various issues are also detailed on the campaign website, and include – a Green New Deal, Free Public Collge and Trade School, Overturning Citizens United, supporting D.C. Statehood, a human rights focused foreign aid policy, abolishing the Immigration & Customs Enforment, and protecting Title IX.

Her policy papers on the website are authored by “thousands of our constituents and progressives across the country,” she says.

Maloney is not new to challenges from Indian-Americans. Back in 2020, Reshma Saujani, a lawyer, and civil rights advocate, as well as author and founder of Girls Who Code, ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic primaries against the Congresswoman.


According to Federal Election Commission numbers, as of March 31, 2022,

  • Patel had total contributions of $652,649.83 and cash on hand of $543,887.06.
  • Sheth had total contributions of $240,056.53 and cash on hand just $3,998.71.
  • Maloney on the other hand, was far ahead at total contributions running to about $2.28 million and cash on hand of more than $1.1 million.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here