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Suraj Patel on why viewers couldn’t turn their backs on the Nadler-Maloney debate

Suraj Patel joked Friday that viewers of his Democratic primary debate against 70-year-old Congressmen Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney seemed to focus on one key issue — his prominent mop of hair.

And if the Longshot wins the Upper West-Upper East seat, it might just be one — but don’t tell him that.

“The campaign is getting bigger and so is the size of my hair,” Patel, 38, told The Post.

“My supporters told me to bring the volume to the debate. I brought the hair too!”

Patel’s mountainous hood dominated the stage and screen during Tuesday’s 90-minute NY1/WNYC debate against Maloney and Nadler.

And the outsider — who has perhaps the most notable head of hair since ex-mayor Bill de Blasio’s son Dante wore a big afro during the 2013 race for town hall and former President Donald Trump ran his hairspray over the comb — says now ahead he has the August 23 Democratic primary in his pocket.

“I will win this race by a hair. I’m going to win by a big margin,” said Patel.

Patel even sells campaign T-shirts that show off his curls — playing off Bernie Sanders’ “Feel the Bern” shirts, which featured the socialist Vermont senator’s strand of white hair when he was running for president.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Rep. Jerry Nadler and Suraj Patel at the Democratic primary debate in the 12th congressional district on August 2, 2022.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Rep. Jerry Nadler and Suraj Patel at the Democratic primary debate in the 12th congressional district on August 2, 2022.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool

Patel likened his locks to the biblical character Samson, whose long hair was the secret of his strength.

“What can I say. I’m a South Asian man, a man of color. It’s August. It’s humid. I’ll let it grow,” Patel said.

His mound of hair may have stimulated debate performance for the newly drawn 12th congressional district. Patel said he took on dozens of new volunteers for the campaign after his two retirement-age rivals stumbled at times during the debate.

Patel joked that viewers of the debate seemed to be focused on his distinctive hair.
Patel joked that viewers of the debate seemed to be focused on his distinctive hair.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool

“Maloney and Nadler have a combined experience of 60 years. They’re the ones who made a rookie mistake,” Patel said.

“They threw President Biden under the bus.”

Maloney had said during the debate that she doesn’t think Biden will run for re-election, while Nadler, who often stumbled trying to make his points even in his opening statement, would not pledge to support Biden’s re-election.

Patel, the first candidate asked about Biden, simply and unequivocally said yes, he supports Biden’s re-election. Footage showed him with a stunned expression as Maloney said Biden would not seek re-election.

“This video of them throwing Biden under the bus is being used by Republicans against the President and Democrats across the country. It’s an incredibly stupid mistake,” Patel said.

Maloney controversially claimed in the debate that she doesn't think President Biden will run for re-election in 2024.
Maloney controversially claimed at the debate that she didn’t think President Biden would run for re-election in 2024.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool

But a poll released Friday — although conducted ahead of Tuesday’s debate — showed Nadler in the lead.

Nadler led Maloney by 9 percentage points from 40% to 31%, Patel was at 11% and the remaining 17% were undecided, according to the Emerson College Polling-PIX11 poll.

When the undecided were asked who they leaned toward, Nadler’s support among primary voters rose to 47%, Maloney to 35%, and 17% for Patel.

A recent poll showed Nadler in the lead for the primary.
A recent poll showed Nadler in the lead for the primary.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool

Patel, an attorney whose family owns Sun Development, a network of hotels across the country, describes himself as an “Obama Democrat” rather than a Democratic Socialist in the mold of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

He has previously said that children in poor neighborhoods should not be stuck in underperforming public schools.

“I’m in favor of raising the charter school cap,” Patel said, putting him at odds with many other Democrats and the teachers’ union who oppose the privately administered, publicly funded alternatives.

He said that successful programming in charter schools should be used as models that are replicated or made scalable in traditional public schools.

The newly drawn 12th congressional district folded the West Side and East Sides into one district, pitting Nadler and Maloney against each other. Both have served in Congress for 30 years.

— Additional reporting by Emily Crane

https://nypost.com/2022/08/05/suraj-patel-on-why-viewers-couldnt-turn-away-from-nadler-maloney-debate/ Suraj Patel on why viewers couldn’t turn their backs on the Nadler-Maloney debate

JACLYN DIAZ

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