Democratic primary challenger and social justice attorney Michael Hiller announced earlier this week that he would be withdrawing from the congressional race because of a personal family tragedy.
Hiller was challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Prospect Lefferts Gardens) for New York’s Ninth Congressional District. He wanted to take his experience as a lawyer and activist, who took on issues ranging from housing to cannabis reform, and bring it to Washington where he felt NY-9 was not being properly represented.
“On September 23rd, we embarked on a historic campaign for Congress,” read a statement released by the campaign. “I had the opportunity to meet with thousands of my neighbors and talk about where we are, and where we need to be, as a society. In doing so, we uncompromisingly advocated in support of the causes we believe in, with a laser focus on improving the lives of our friends and neighbors, and restoring confidence in our government and our institutions.”
Hiller’s statement went on to explain that he is pulling out because of a family tragedy and did not feel it would be fair to people in the community if he continued to campaign when he knows he can’t put all of his energy into running. “I wish to take this opportunity to thank you, my supporters, for believing in me, and for all your hard work and dedication,” according to the statement, which went on to encourage supporters to continue fighting for causes like equal rights for all and environmentalism and justice. He is also not endorsing any other candidate at this time.
For those wondering if they’ll ever hear from Hiller again as a potential politician or in another similar capacity, he has a firm answer. “In the years ahead, I expect to resume my public advocacy, and will never stop fighting for the people of New York City. In other words, I’ll be back.”
Hiller exits a race that is starting to heat up as the new year begins and the campaigns start kicking into gear. Clarke is tough to unseat, as most incumbents tend to be, and she has been a member of Congress since being elected in 2006. Vying for her seat are candidates like political activist and son of refugees Adem Bunkeddeko, who nearly defeated Clarke in the 2018 primary, bi-racial and first-generation American Alex Hubbard, and Isiah James, who just entered the race earlier this week and earned an endorsement from Brand New Congress.
Some of the candidates took a few moments out of their campaigns to say a few words about Hiller’s decision to withdraw because of a personal tragedy. “First and foremost, my thoughts are with Michael Hiller and his family as they continue to mourn his father’s unexpected passing last month,” Clarke said in a statement. “As a candidate, he brought an insightful perspective to the NY9 congressional race and I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.”
James commented in a tweet, writing “I am saddened to learn that one of my opponents @WeLikeMike_2020 has suspended his campaign because of the passing of his father. Yes, we were opponents running for the same seat, but more than that we are both fighting for the betterment of our community.”
Bunkeddeko also tweeted about the news, writing “The people of NY-9 appreciate Michael Hiller’s thoughtfulness during the race. I wish him and his family the best during this difficult time, and I commit to fight for our shared values in this race.”
The primary election for NY-9 and all other Democratic candidates running to represent New York in the House of Representatives will be held on June 23.