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Instagram rapper mounts ‘radical’ Congress challenge to 26-year incumbent

December 11, 2019 Christian Spencer
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A 26-year incumbent congressmember is facing a new challenger with “radical” ideas for change: Paperboy Love Prince, a nonbinary rapper, artist and internet personality.

Prince is campaigning against incumbent U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez in the Democratic primary for Congressional District 7. Velázquez, the first Puerto Rican woman in Congress, has represented areas of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan —  including Prince’s own neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant — since 1993.

Prince identifies as a “radical,” not a progressive — a term the newcomer sees as no more than a surface level appeal to young voters.

“I want to stand out. To let people know it’s okay to be themselves. It’s okay to be different,” Prince told the Brooklyn Eagle.

The rapper, who uses the pronouns they and them, was born the same year that Velázquez took office. Prince is banking on their social media presence — an Instagram following of more than 13,000 and a YouTube page with more than 1 million views — and the district’s youth to bolster their challenge.

The district’s demographics skew younger than 65. The median age is about 34, with age groups between 20 and 39 representing a combined 34 percent of the district, according to census data.

Velázquez’s team told the Eagle that the congressmember has a track record of serving her constituents.

“Nydia’s record on defending our progressive values in the face of Washington extremism is unmatched,” said Alex Haurek, Velázquez’s communications director. “She will continue fighting to expand access to health care for New Yorkers, cut student loan debt, advance her bill to invest in public housing, hold[s] unscrupulous landlords accountable and stand up to Trump.”

Haurek did not mention Prince specifically, but did say that “Elections are good for our democracy and anyone can run.”

Prince said they want to build a mobile application where constituents can vote on their representative’s day-to-day actions, and the representative can in turn report back to constituents. Prince said to think of it as “American Idol,” but in office.

Prince is campaigning on support for the district’s artist community, including an extension of federal worker protections to freelancers. They plan to introduce complex policies in song format instead of the traditional press release.

“My flagship proposals — basic universal income, spreading love to all and medicare for all — we have a stance on those. But we want to have a little more research just to see how the community feels,” they said.

Prince attended the University of Maryland, College Park as a journalism student. With limited experience in politics besides a Capitol Hill internship, they believe a lack of political experience ultimately makes them a better fit than Velázquez for the position.

The artist likens his campaign to his sense of style. “I have my own style, and it speaks to my willingness to innovate and think outside the box,” Prince said. “My style is inspired by the community. A lot of politicians wear the same suits and they still have to have a stylist to help pick out that same suit. It’s parallel to how they run policies.”

The newcomer hasn’t yet raised campaign funds and is not interested in corporate contributors or PACs. “These corporate PACs and corporate contributors are afraid to donate to me because we are their worst enemies,” Prince said.

Velázquez, Prince said, has “taken from the biggest banks in the world, insurance companies, and from the real estate industry.”

Paperboy is the only Democratic challenger to Velazquez. Avery Pereira is running as a Republican.

Christian Spencer is a freelance journalist based in New York City, writing about politics, metro news, education and business.

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    • tomatoes69

      “Giving people a platform” is called democracy! Paperboy is fighting for policies that will help your life, specifically UBI($1,000 a month for every American), Medicare-for All, and much more. Donald Trump has nothing to do with it.