Earlier today, Liz Benjamin reported Councilman Erik Dilan is raising money for a federal office, suggesting his rumored campaign against Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez should be taken much more seriously. A Democratic source also told Chris Bragg that Mr. Dilan was close to making a decision.
But could Mr. Dilan win?
Ms. Velázquez, who’s a long-time political opponent of Brooklyn’s Democratic leader, Assemblyman Vito Lopez, would surely see the county’s Democratic organization support Mr. Dilan’s primary challenge should he pull the trigger. Having establishment support for a low-turnout primary battle would be a powerful tool for Mr. Dilan to have in his back pocket.
On the other hand, Ms. Velázquez is a pillar in parts of New York City’s Puerto Rican community and taking out a veteran incumbent is never an easy task.
A Democratic operative supporting Mr. Dilan told The Politicker he believes there could be a viable path to victory in this diverse district.
“I think the Dilans and Lopez believe that, in a Democratic primary, the Satmars, public housing population, and Asians, along with splitting the Latino vote with Nydia, could prove to be a path to victory for Erik,” he said, referencing Mr. Lopez’s strength in one of Williamsburg’s Hasidic sects, as well as both Mr. Dilan’s and Mr. Lopez’s influence in public housing. Both chair powerful public housing committees in their respective legislative bodies.
However, others have questioned whether Mr. Dilan truly intends to run, or if he even has a way to win in a district that includes many voters far outside of Mr. Dilan’s base in northern Brooklyn, including Manhattan’s Chinatown, parts of Brownstone Brooklyn, Poles in Greenpoint, and trendy gentrifying areas in the Lower East Side and Brooklyn.
For example, when rumors last surfaced that Mr. Dilan was considering a Congressional campaign, Brooklyn political blogger Gatemouth expressed doubts over Mr. Dilan’s “ability to battle Nydia Velazquez … in a district currently filled with substantial loads of yuppies, hipsters, white ethnics and Chinese.”
A Democratic official supporting Ms. Velázquez agreed, arguing while the district is plurality-Latino, “the majority of your primary date voters are white people … he would be introducing himself to basically a new electorate for him, comprised of people who have never voted for him or know who he is.”
(On the other side of the coin, Mr. Dilan does have an inside track to influencing the redistricting process as his father is one of six members of the redistricting task force in Albany.)
The official also questioned whether Mr. Dilan has enough time to run and money to run, calling the rumored campaign “a lot of bravado,” and ”a lot of back and forth between who’s on offense and who’s on defense” between Ms. Velázquez and Mr. Lopez.
“It’s the 8th of February … and we’re looking at a June 26th primary. To raise money for a congressional campaign against an opponent who has $800,000 in the bank … that’s a shit load of fucking money to raise all of a sudden if you don’t have an open campaign committee.”