Ms. Velazquez’s congressional district covers about two-thirds of the Assembly district, but Mr. Gonzalez will have competition for the Latino vote. Mr. Lopez’s candidate, Rafael Espinal, is also Latino, and splitting the ethnic vote could help the third candidate — Mr. Towns’ daughter, Deidra — who is the lone African-American candidate in the race. (African-Americans make up 33 percent of the district’s voters, and Mr. Towns’ congressional district covers about a third of the Assembly district.)
But Mr. Gonzalez stands to benefit – with both groups – from the long histories of Mr. Lopez and Mr. Towns in Brooklyn’s bare-knuckle politics.
“Jesus is independent, un-bossed and un-bought,” said City Councilman Charles Barron, who ran a primary against Mr. Towns in 2006. “We can’t have people getting elected just because of their last name.”
Mr. Barron is one of the Council’s more outspoken voices advocating for African-American causes, but has shunned Ms. Towns in favor of Mr. Gonzalez.
“I have never even seen Deidra in East New York,” he said. “And Vito, please. I would never support anyone Vito has control over.”
(Mr. Gonzalez recently met with the Reverend Al Sharpton, though a spokesman for the reverend said she was unaware if an endorsement was pending.)
The support from the anti-Lopez camp extends even beyond the district’s borders.
On a recent Wednesday night, Mr. Gonzalez hosted a fundraiser at Bar Celona, a South Williamsburg lounge. His cousin, Jose Lopez, who also works for Make the Road, had hastily arranged what he called an “After Work Celebration!” by Facebook invitation. There were no speeches by the candidate and no elected officials.
About a dozen people milled around, including two Hasidic men from South Williamsburg. “We will be Jews for Jesus,” they said.
A labor lawyer, who has worked with Mr. Gonzalez in the past, handed over a crumpled twenty-dollar bill to the campaign manager, and she looked around for an envelope to put it in.
Earlier this month, local District Leader Lincoln Restler hosted a slightly more lucrative fundraiser at his parents’ Pierrepont Street apartment in Brooklyn Heights, and Mr. Gonzalez’s campaign said on Tuesday that it would report more than $75,000 in contributions, a healthy start for an Assembly campaign.
He also has the support of the New Kings Democrats, an organization of young reformers – including Mr. Restler — dedicated to chipping away at the entrenched power of Mr. Lopez.
But, for Mr. Gonzalez, it all comes back to the community.
In Bushwick, as he stepped over the open hydrants to reach people sitting on their stoops, a middle-aged man with a clipboard stopped to question him about the bullet points on his flyers.
“Police who respect us,” he read from the literature. “How are you gonna get that from them?”
“I know what it is to get a gun pulled in my face,” said Mr. Gonzalez. “But I also know what it is to get harassed. So just looking for the balance on having safety in the neighborhood but having police who respect us.”
The man nodded approvingly and asked about job creation.
“You go to my opponents, they say, ‘Build Walmart because Walmart brings jobs.’ But they bring shitty jobs,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “So I say let’s bring some good jobs to the neighborhood. What I am saying is this, man, we need an advocate that is from the community.”
“I agree,” the man replied, “for the people, by the people,”.
“I know I represent that,” said Mr. Gonzalez. “Sometimes you plan and it doesn’t work out the way you plan. But, you do know that I won’t compromise those values.”
“You know what’s up,” the man told Mr. Gonzalez.
For now, Mr. Gonzalez’s plan is try to outhustle his opponents.
Around 7 p.m., after two hours of campaigning, he told the staffer walking with him that she could go home. He wanted to pick up the pace.
“I literally jog,” he said. “It’s my workout plan.”
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