Washington DC – Iranian American Darius Shahinfar has announced his candidacy for New York’s 21st District Congressional seat. The seat is being vacated by retiring Representative Michael McNulty (D-NY) who has represented the district since 1988. Shahinfar made his official announcement at a news conference in Albany, launching a campaign to ‘Renew America’s Promise’.
Shahinfar, an Iranian American whose father immigrated to the United States in 1959, is a former deputy county attorney. He served as a campaign aide to Rep. Kirsten Gilibrand’s (D-NY20) 2006 victory and since her election, he has served as her district representative in Albany. Shahinfar says his experience as an aide to Gilibrand makes him “the best person for the job.”
Shahinfar steps into the race as a strong candidate to succeed McNulty albeit in a crowded field. The other Democratic challengers are Lester Freeman, Albany’s Equal Employment Opportunity coordinator; Gary Mittleman, a wealthy businessman; Tracy Brooks, a well connected former regional director for Hillary Clinton; and Phil Steck, an Albany County legislator.
The Republicans are fielding two little-known candidates, however, the 21st district covering parts of Fulton, Rensselaer and Saratoga counties and all of Albany, Montgomery, Schenectady and Schoharie counties, is considered a safe Democratic seat.
Shahinfar is not the first Iranian American to run for congress. In 2004, Goli Ameri was the Republican nominee in Oregon’s first district running in a democratic district against an incumbent Democratic Representative. Sohrab (Rob) Sobhani, ran as a Republican Senate candidate from Maryland in 2000, but was defeated in the primary.
If elected, Shahinfar would be succeeding a highly respected member of the congressional Democratic caucus. McNulty is a 20 year incumbent who serves as a subcommittee chairman for the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
The Democratic primary is scheduled for September 9.