Astoria community organizer launches primary bid for Congress

Rana Abdelhamid Contributed photo
The same group that backed Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her upset of Joe Crowley in 2018 has found a primary challenger from Astoria to run against 14-term Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.

The Justice Democrats are throwing their support behind Rana Abdelhamid, a 27-year-old member of the Democratic Socialists of America, a daughter of Egyptian immigrants and community organizer who launched her campaign Wednesday in the Little Egypt section of Steinway Street.

“As someone who has personally confronted inequality and displacement, I know that twenty-eight years of Carolyn Maloney’s failed leadership has left too many New Yorkers behind,” Abdelhamid said. “As the pandemic has exacerbated inequities in our communities, this district deserves a representative who fights for renters instead of developers, and small shops instead of big banks. A leader who went to New York City public schools, isn’t a millionaire, and answers to all of us — not just the corporate PACs who fund her reelection campaigns.”

In her campaign video, Abdelhamid is shown as a fighter who has dedicated her life to protecting her neighbors and communities when politicians fail to act. After she was assaulted for wearing her hijab at age 16, Abdelhamid launched Malikah, a nonprofit that builds power for women and girls from marginalized backgrounds through self-defense, healing, organizing, and financial literacy.

Now, after watching twin crises — the pandemic and the recession — devastate her community, Abdelhamid launched her primary challenge for Congress on her vision of housing justice and economic security for all believing that the people who power New York should be able to afford to live, work, and thrive in New York.

Growing up, rising rent and poor housing conditions forced her family to move six times before she was 9 years old. Despite owning and operating a local deli, her father had to take on a second job working long nights as a cab driver to make ends meet. Eventually, rent hikes forced him to give up the deli her family built from the ground up. Like too many New Yorkers during the pandemic, Abdelhamid says the experience gave her firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to grow up in a working-class community in an “unequal city, fighting against a cruel economic system that threatens lives and livelihoods every day.” She added that it is why she is running to bring housing, economic security and racial justice to NY-12.

“As someone who has fought tirelessly for her community against racism and economic security, we’re proud to support Rana Abdelhamid’s campaign for progressive change,” Justice Democrats Executive Director Alexandra Rojas said “Voter and activists all across the district have made clear that they want to hep usher in a new generation of leadership into the Democratic Party free or corporate money and dedicated to uplifting all of our communities.”

When Maloney announced her reelection bid last month she noted an unmatched record for delivering federal money to her district, including more than $12.95 billion to New York State and $5.6 billion to New York City in the American Rescue Plan during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Now more than ever, our city needs innovative leaders to spearhead our rebuilding from the COVID-19 crisis, and I am proud to say that I have started rolling up my sleeves. From securing federal funding to help New Yorkers get vaccinated, pay their rent, and feed their families, I have led efforts that will enable New York City and New York state to build back better,” Maloney said. “The COVID-19 crisis has emphasized everything that is essential from our healthcare to workers rights to protections for women and families. I have always found solutions in legislation and delivered. For the past year, the incredible people who live, work, and choose to raise their families here have shown the determination that New Yorkers are known for. The resiliency of our city and our people are our strength and road to recovery. We will bounce back and defeat this virus, and I will continue to do what I have always done: fight for the people of my district who I am privileged to represent.”

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