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Rana Abdelhamid

Rana Abdelhamid, an organizer who has been running for U.S. Congress in New York's 12th district, announced on May 31, 2022 that she is exiting the race after her community was cut out of the district in new congressional maps. (Photo: Rana Abdelhamid for Congress

'This Stings': New York Redistricting Forces Out Progressive Hopeful Rana Abdelhamid

The redrawn congressional maps, said one political journalist, have "cut the knees out from really impressive young progressive candidates."

Julia Conley

Warning that the court-ordered redrawing of New York's congressional map has already left marginalized communities in the state with less representation, grassroots organizer Rana Abdelhamid on Tuesday announced that she was ending her campaign in the state's 12th District because the new district boundaries cut her off from the communities she hope to represent.

"Because my community and I were cut out of our district, we were left with no other choice," Abdelhamid said in a statement. "The new NY-12, which was drawn through an undemocratic process, no longer includes Queens or Brooklyn."

Before Acting State Supreme Court Justice Patrick McCallister, a Republican, approved the new map earlier this month, New York's 12th District included part of the diverse Queens neighborhood of Astoria, where Abdelhamiid was raised as the daughter of Egyptian immigrants.

"For a district that has had a corporate-backed incumbent for three decades, this glimpse of people power was a dream."

The new map stretches from Midtown to upper Manhattan, pitting Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who has represented the 12th District since 2013, against Rep. Jerrold Nadler. Both Democrats have served in Congress since 1993.

To continue her bid to represent her community, Abdelhamid would have to run against a fellow progressive—either Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the 14th District or Nydia Velázquez in the 7th.

"The GOP-drawn redistricting map foisted on New Yorkers didn't just pit incumbents against one another, it cut the knees out from really impressive young progressive candidates," said Jordan Zakarin, a reporter and producer for More Perfect Union, a media outlet focused on organized labor and worker rights.

The redistricting process diluted "our opportunity for representation and political power," Abdelahmid said of her community, which includes "working class, Black and brown, Muslim and Arab communities of interest."

Had Abdelhamid won a congressional seat, the staunch progressive who backs Medicare for All and the Green New Deal would have been the first Egyptian-American in Congress and the first Muslim member to represent New York City.

"For a community with no representation in New York City politics, for a community that was harassed and profiled by law enforcement for years, a community that continues to be gentrified, whose story is barely told, this glimpse of representation was a dream," Abdelhamid said.

"For a district that has had a corporate-backed incumbent for three decades," she added, "this glimpse of people power was a dream."

The founder of a non-profit which trains women in self defense, political organizing, and financial literacy, Abdelhamid focused her campaign on investing in public housing, demilitarizing police forces, strengthening Medicare and expanding the program to all Americans, and other economic and racial justice initiatives.

New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, who supported Abdelhamid's campaign told Gothamist that New York Democrats who are "hoping to preserve control of the House" are "using gerrymandering to institutionalize their partisan advantage" just as Republicans are.

"That's a devil's bargain," Lander said.

Abdelhamid pledged to continue working to represent her community, saying, "This is not the end of our time in politics, but only the beginning. We have a lot of work to do."

"I know she'll be back, but this stings," tweeted Maya Rupert, a political strategist who has worked on campaigns for New York mayoral candidate Maya Wiley, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and former Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro.

New York City Council Member Tiffany Cabán said the redrawn congressional map has robbed New Yorkers of multiracial, working class leadership "that's desperately needed right now in Congress."

"I have no doubt that in whatever capacity Rana chooses to continue organizing, she will keep fighting for us," said Cabán. "For all of us."

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