Longshot challenger Suraj Patel came out swinging in the Democratic primary debate for the race to represent Manhattan’s Upper West and Upper East sides, saying it’s time to retire septuagenarian Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney.
The call for new blood from the 38-year-old came right after Nadler stumbled badly through his own opening statement.
“It’s 2022. It’s time to turn the page on 1992,” Patel, 38, said in a swipe at Nadler, 75, and Maloney, 76, during his introductory statement in the debate co-sponsored by NY1 and WNYC.
Nadler’s delivery was halting during his initial presentation and he missedpoke and often seemed unable to come up with the right words.
And then Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, uttered a real whopper, proclaiming, “I’ve impeached Bush twice.”
He was referring to his oversight of the politically divisive impeachments of former President Donald Trump, who he confused with either the 41st or 43rd presidents.
Nadler’s bumbling seemed to prove Patel’s point.
“Nineteen-nineties Democrats have lost about every major battle to Mitch McConnell and the Republicans,” said Patel, referring to the Senate Republican leader from Kentucky.
Meanwhile, Nadler sat down during the entire 90 minute session while Maloney and Patel stood at their lectures.
Nadler had many other verbal stumbles throughout the debate and at one point when the moderators offered him a chance to respond since his name had been brought up by an opponent, he seemed stunned and had nothing to say.
At one point, WNYC moderator Brigid Bergin asked Nadler about the importance of seniority and how he and Maloney differed on policies, two related but different questions.
Nadler answered that seniority is important if used effectively, but forget about the Maloney comparison.
“The second one, the second question, what was the second one?” Nadler asked.
Maloney made waves for a different reason during the debate: She predicted that President Biden, 79, would not run for re-election.
“I don’t believe he’s running for re-election,” Maloney said.
Nadler, meanwhile, would not commit to supporting Biden’s reelection and would only answer, “It’s too early to say,” when asked.
Patel, who had made a point of noting that his opponents are too old to be reelected to the House, nevertheless said “yes” to supporting the 79-year-old Biden’s re-election.
On foreign affairs, all three candidates supported House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan and said the Biden administration should not give in to China’s bullying it.
Maloney claimed she was more effective in office than Nadler, saying she delivered the Second Avenue subway for her district while Nadler’s proposed rail freight tunnel hasn’t gotten off the ground. Nadler claimed he helped secure funding for the Second Avenue subway.
Maloney was on the defensive about her prior concerns over whether vaccines contributed to autism, a position she has since abandoned.
Maloney and Nadler each were elected and have served together in Congress for 30 years, first elected in the early 1990s.
Nadler was a former state assemblyman before his election to the House. Maloney chairs the House Oversight Committee and formerly served in the City Council.
Patel, a self-described “Obama Democrat” and lawyer whose family runs a hotel business, is making his third run in the 12th congressional district.
The Democrats’ gerrymandering debacle ended up pitting Maloney and Nadler — longtime allies — against each other.
Judges knocked out the Democrat-drawn maps — which Republicans derided as the “Hochulmander” because Gov. Kathy Hochul approved them — finding them unconstitutional.
As a result, a court-ordered special master merged Maloney’s East Side turf with Nadler’s West Side base, and Nadler wasted no time, immediately declaring he’d run in Maloney’s district, guaranteeing at least one of the aged incumbents will be out of a job next year.
Nadler decided to run in the 12th CD against Maloney instead of the 10th District, which he currently represents, because the reconfigured 10th cut out his Upper West Side turf and took in communities in brownstone and southern Brooklyn, a swath of the city he has never .
The primary will be held on Aug. 23 with early voting beginning on August 13.