This Democratic Candidate's Unconventional Strategy to Get Young People to Vote

June 18, 2018

By Christian Smith

Former Obama campaign staffer Suraj Patel is hoping to use some unusual campaign tactics to boost voter turnout in New York's 12th congressional district to oust 25-year incumbent Rep. Carolyn Maloney in next week's Democratic primary.

"One candidate in this race is just going to send mail over and over and over like a Bed, Bath & Beyond mailer to the twenty to thirty thousand people that consistently may vote," Patel said in an interview on Cheddar Monday. "We, on the other hand, are out there every single day talking to voters."

Patel isn't just talking to people. The NYU professor's campaign has teamed up with 50 coffee carts across New York City to hand out 200,000 coffee cups with Patel's name on it. Six of those coffee carts are also actively registering voters.

It's part of an effort to bring in those residents who haven't been active at the ballot box for primaries before. In the 2016 primary, only 8 percent of the district's eligible voters participated in the primary. Maloney beat challenger Peter Lindner by an 80-point margin, but only about 15,000 voters cast a ballot. That compares to the nearly 250,000 people who voted for her in the general election.

Patel also has to contend with the fact that Maloney has the support of the Democratic Party and its large pool of donors. While going against the party's coffers is difficult, Patel says he is pleased with his campaign's fundraising efforts so far.

The primary is one of eight Congressional primary races in New York next week. Voting for the New York primaries gets underway Tuesday, June 26.

For the full interview, click here.