Carolyn Maloney has held elected office for more than 35 years. For the past 25, she's been in Congress and faced virtually no significant opposition at the polls.
Suraj Patel is trying to change that. The 34-year-old is a lawyer who teaches ethics at NYU, runs a business and worked on both Obama campaigns. He's part of a wave of young progressives challenging longtime incumbents from the left.
Patel dings Maloney for her votes in favor of the Iraq War and against the Iran nuclear deal, and says it's time for new blood.
"We've settled for complacency from our congressperson and apathy from the electorate that no longer can be tolerated," Patel said.
Patel has tried to activate young voters and taken novel approaches, doing man-on-the-street interviews, using exercise classes as campaign events and getting coffee carts throughout the district to push his candidacy, even putting his face on coffee cups.
"We're going around the establishment to engage voters directly," Patel said.
"Experience counts," Maloney said.
Maloney, meanwhile, ticks off a long record of legislative wins and points to funding for her district, which straddles most of the east side of Manhattan, as well as Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Long Island City and Astoria.
Maloney says she's authored more than 70 bills, including the Zadroga Act to help September 11th responders, and secured funding for the Second Avenue Subway.
"I always tell voters, before any candidate tells you what they're going to do, ask them, 'What have they done? What have they done to help people? What have they done to improve our city, our neighborhoods? What have they done to make our city safer?'" she said. "I have an answer. My opponent does not."
A challenge for both candidates is turning out voters who are largely unaware of the primary.
Unlikely many challengers, Patel does have resources to get the word out, having raised more than $1 million over the past two quarters, well outpacing Maloney.