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Jenifer Rajkumar

Adams has called her a “beast.” She thinks he’s “the GOAT.” 


  • Lawyer
  • Adjunct professor of political sciencem CUNY
  • Director of Immigration Affairs, New York State


  •  Assemblymember, Queens, 38th District

The job of a New York state assemblymember is fairly straightforward: For six months, you’re in session, duking it out in Albany and trying to make New York’s busted-up political system grind forward. The other half of the year? Well, beyond plotting revenge against your political enemies to deploy during the next session, or running for re-election during an even-numbered year, you’re pretty much left to your own devices, and you can choose what to do with your time. 

In the back half of 2023, what southeast Queens Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar chose to do was hang out with Eric Adams, a lot. From a press conference about an opioid settlement, to a celebration of Haitian heritage at Gracie Mansion, to a Dominican pride event, Rajkumar appeared at public events with the mayor addressing topics that had nothing to do with her district, noticeably breaking from the pack of other state legislators who usually only crowd around the mayor when something is impacting their district or is about legislation they’re working on. 

“The highest compliment I have gotten from Eric Adams is that I am a beast,” Rajkumar told City & State in August, referring to her very visible public schedule with the mayor, with whom she shares a birthday, 22 years apart. 

Earlier that same month, at a flag raising for India, Rajkumar expounded on her admiration for Adams. “When we look at Mayor Adams, we see ourselves. In fact, they actually call him the Indian Mayor,” she said, “And Mayor Eric Adams and I share a belief in unlocking the power of New York’s most forgotten and bringing people from all corners of our city to the table of power, because we believe in the power of people’s voices, that they count. That is why he’s the GOAT, the greatest of all time.”

Adams has praised Rajkumar for her attendance at City Hall events, “Not allowing the boundary of her Assembly location (be an obstacle to) bringing us together.”

After growing up in Westchester, Rajkumar moved to Lower Manhattan, where she practiced law and ran unsuccessfully to win a seat on City Council (2013) and State Assembly (2016). Finally, Rajkumar moved to southeast Queens before the 2020 election, picked up an endorsement from California Congressmember Ro Khanna, and finally became an assemblymember, the first Indian-American elected to the state legislature, defeating a 12-year incumbent and powering her campaign with $50,000 from her own pocketbook.

During her assembly campaign, Rajkumar faced heat from activists for alleged associations  with the far-right Hindu nationalist movement spearheaded by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In 2014, she praised an event welcoming Modi to Madison Square Garden, and during her campaign also took donations from several prominent supporters of Modi. (The Modi administration has reportedly launched a North American assassination squad to go after political enemies abroad.)

Shortly after her ascension to state office, Rajkumar voted against the legalization of marijuana. “As the daughter of doctors who work in drug addiction medicine, I have seen firsthand how drug addiction has ruined lives,” she said in a statement at the time. “I know too many constituents who have lost a child to drugs. I could not in good conscience vote for a law that could have a detrimental effect on the health of New Yorkers.”

Rajkumar was named to Adams’s transition team in 2021 after she endorsed him for mayor during the primary. She got caught in some election shenanigans in 2022, when New York Focus revealed that a canvasser for her campaign, along with another candidates’, allegedly forged signatures during petitioning. But months later she cruised to re-election, running unopposed. Rajkumar’s and Adams’s voters overlap, with Adams handily beating all other candidates in the 2021 primary in her district

In recent years, Rajkumar has begun wearing a red dress at almost all public events. 

“It symbolizes energy, passion, and purpose,” she once explained, qualities that she’s in no short supply of. 

Rajkumar’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

When Adams falls under scrutiny, Rajkumar is out front to defend him, helping round out softball stories from the New York Post. Just days after federal investigators raided the home of his top fundraiser, Rajkumar went on a five-borough tour with Adams to celebrate her legislation making Diwali a school holiday. She was also alongside him when a Sikh group presented him with a sword that said “NYC Mayor Adams is our protector.” Maybe Adams owes Rajkumar a sword, too.

Last updated: 12/18/2023


received a $1,500 campaign donation from

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