GREENPOINT — Dawn Smalls is considering a run against U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney of the 12th congressional district in 2020, according to sources close to the former public advocate candidate.
Smalls, a Democrat, who placed sixth in a 17-person race this year, recently took several meetings with political stakeholders, Bklyner has learned. Since her unsuccessful attempt at the citywide office, the mother of three is keeping herself in the public eye with an opinion piece on maternal mortality in the Daily News and separately testifying at a recent City Council hearing on campaign finance.
The Manhattanite worked under President Barack Obama’s Administration but started at the White House as early as the 1990s under John Podesta, chief of staff to then-President Clinton. This would be the former Obama and Clinton staffer’s first attempt at the congressional seat which encompasses Greenpoint, parts of Queens and most of Manhattan’s East Side.
Smalls lives in Union Square, and the district is more than 70% white. The average age is 35 with more than 40% between the ages of 24 and 44. The attorney introduced herself during her first bid for public office in a video pegging New York’s progressive values as “under attack.”
The 12th congressional district votes heavily Democratic and she’ll likely continue pushing against President Trump’s policies in the very district where his private New York residence stands — Trump Tower.
Maloney, the incumbent, has not escaped the recent trend of Progressives challenging longstanding incumbents. The growing divide between the 73-year-old and her constituency of which more than 40% are between the ages of 24 and 44 could play a factor. The 14-term congresswoman went unopposed in 2012 and 2014 and crushed her 2016 primary with 91% of the vote.
But last year, Suraj Patel, another Obama staffer, showed an impressive standing against the incumbent walking away with more than 40% of the vote during the June 2018 primary.
Patel, 35, met heavy criticism over his Tinder-friendly campaign strategies, but still took Brooklyn by nearly two times more than Maloney. The two almost tied with voters in Queens. But ultimately Maloney pulled ahead in Manhattan with more than 60% of the vote in a section of the borough that spans from the East Village to the wealthy Upper East Side along the East River.
Smalls is one of three potential candidates looking to shore up the tri-borough district. Her candidacy would make her the third woman to enter the race. Maloney, the incumbent, intends to defend her seat and activist and stand-up comedian Lauren Ashcraft announced March 11.
“It’s a millennial heavy district,” said Ashcraft, 30, who works as a project manager at J.P. Morgan. “Millennials have a huge concern for our environment and our planet,” she added noting her approval of the Green New Deal the Senate shot down in March. “That means, on average, we have decades to see the consequences of the decisions that we’re making.”
While Ashcraft has already opened a committee and is already fundraising, Smalls has not. Sources say the Union Square resident looks to announce early to mid-summer should she decide to take the leap.
This marks the second candidate from the crowded race for New York City public advocate to announce a congressional bid. On April 23, Bronx Assemblyman Michael Blake threw his hat in the ring for the 15th congressional race, after U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano announced his retirement.