Battle of Brooklyn
Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez does not forget. And she does not forgive.
Accordingly, Ms. Velázquez is now hoping to unseat Councilwoman Sara Gonzalez, who endorsed Ms. Velázquez’s primary challenger last year. And she’s given the maximum contribution to Ms. Gonzalez’s opponent, Carlos Menchaca, part of an overall haul of $40,000 overall in just two weeks.
“I am impressed by how much Carlos has achieved in such a short period of time,” Ms. Velázquez said in a statement this morning.
Let's Make a Deal
Three members of New York City’s congressional delegation have signed on to a letter vowing not to back any White House bargain to avoid the $85 billion in automatic budget cuts known as the sequester that includes cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Both parties have been at an impasse over the cuts with Democrats favoring debt reduction through tax increases and Republicans wanting spending cuts. President Barack Obama has repeatedly expressed a desire to make a deal ahead of the March 1 deadline that includes both tax increases and proposals to reduce the costs of social programs. Now, Congressmen Jerry Nadler, Jose Serrano and Nydia Velazquez have all signed the pledge promising not to back any deal including the compromises being called for by the White House.
“Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are the great bedrocks of our middle class society and, together, constitute an essential safety net for millions of Americans,” Mr. Nadler said. “I will fight like hell against any deficit plan that cuts these programs or fails to address our immediate jobs problem. It is unconscionable for Republicans to ask those who can least afford it – seniors, kids, our most vulnerable families – to sacrifice even more and shoulder a disproportionate burden. I do not support anydeal that cuts Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits.”
Jeff Kurzon, the managing partner of Manhattan law firm, says he’s ready to run for Congress and challenge Nydia Velázquez in the Democratic primary next year.
“Hi,” Mr. Kurzon says on his recently-launched campaign website. “My name is Jeff Kurzon. I am a 36 year old attorney and have lived in both ends of District 7: from Bushwick in Brooklyn to Little Italy in Manhattan. I am a proud American with diverse roots ranging from Armenian to English, Irish and Scottish descent. My mother, a former social worker, now runs a small publishing business. My father is a retired physician who served in the U.S. Navy. I am Catholic, however, I respect all forms of spirituality that strengthens us as humans and connects us to each other and God.”
hating the haters
Veteran Congressman Charlie Rangel joined his New York colleague Nydia Velázquez and twenty-four other members of the U.S. House today to speak out against homophobia worldwide, and for gay marriage legislation, of course.
“I believe that hatred of any kind has no place in America. I’m proud to participate in a campaign that promotes the progress that our country has made over the past few years with regard to the rights of the LGBT community,” Mr. Rangel said in a press release announcing his participation. “This is a wonderful way to support their struggle for equality and to discourage discrimination based on who people love.”
Anyone who follows northern Brooklyn politics enough quickly learns that there is an incredibly sharp political divide between the two rival factions in Hasidic Williamsburg, where the larger faction favors candidates backed by Brooklyn’s Democratic leader Vito Lopez and the smaller one favors candidates he opposes. With both factions turning out in record numbers in last Tuesday’s election where incumbent Rep. Nydia Velázquez thumped the Lopez-backed candidacy of Councilman Erik Dilan, that smaller faction decided to take a small victory lap today.
In a press release blasted out by George Arzt Communications, the same firm that worked for Ms. Velázquez’s campaign, Rabbi Moshe Indig, a power broker in the the “Aroni” Satmar sect, declared his faction’s ongoing success over Mr. Lopez.
winners & losers
After much tension and circumstance, today’s primary elections for federal elections have come to a close, and there were few surprises to be found.
In each congressional race, the candidate of the conventional wisdom emerged victorious and all incumbents that sought to return to Washington D.C. next year are now set to do so — at least in parts of heavily Democratic New York City where primary elections are the actual contest.
The list of primary champions includes Reps. Charlie Rangel, Nydia Velázquez and Yvette Clarke, with open seat contenders Hakeem Jeffries and Grace Meng added in as well.
“She is going to say to you that Nydia Velázquez doesn’t speak Cantonese, Fujianese, or Mandarin, but my heart does,” Congresswoman Velázquez told a packed senior center off Mulberry Street in Manhattan. Although the line was a little cheesy, the cheered loudly when Councilwoman Margaret Chin finished translating it.
Ms. Chin, joined by Comptroller John Liu, was there to urge the center’s elderly residents to vote in tomorrow’s Democratic primary. The district, oddly configured, includes the heavily Chinese communities in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and Ms. Velázquez, with another campaign stop in Sunset Park in the afternoon, is clearly making a last-minute push for that community’s support.
It’s late in the game with Election Day next Tuesday, but Governor Andrew Cuomo has finally signaled which Democrats he prefers in key primaries around the city. In two races where incumbents are facing serious challenges, Mr. Cuomo has favored the incumbent, while in the open seat competition to replace Rep. Ed Towns, he went with Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries over Councilman Charles Barron.
“I think he is best suited not just for the district for this state,” Mr. Cuomo told Capital Tonight to explain his endorsement of Congressman Charlie Rangel, first reported by the New York Post. “His seniority is a major asset for this state.”
Councilman Erik Dilan, a candidate against veteran Rep. Nydia Velázquez, announced the backing of a number of notable elected officials at the end of last week (although some of the names on the list had actually endorsed the incumbent), and Ms. Velázquez has fired back with her own support this afternoon with Borough President Marty Markowitz and other officials.
“Nydia Velázquez has always been, and will always be one of Brooklyn’s biggest supporters,” Mr. Markowitz said in a statement. “Whenever a fight arises for the survival of Brooklyn’s middle-class, support of small business or affordable housing, Congresswoman Velázquez has been there for us. Be there for her.”
Last month, The Observer wrote a piece detailing how the New York Times endorsement process works, what the editorial board looks for in a candidate, and how much getting the gray lady’s nod determines who emerges victorious on election day.
Now, with New York’s federal elections only a few weeks away, we take a look at each of the competitive elections on June 26, take a guess at which way the paper will go and deduce what kind of an effect it will have.
Disagree? Make it known in the comments.
U.S. Senate Republican Primary—Bob Turner vs. Wendy Long vs. George Maragos
It is no by means a certainty that The Times will endorse in the GOP Senate primary, and if they do, expect it to be a hold-you-nose-and-vote-for-the-guy-who-is-marginally-better-than-the-rest kind of endorsement. Expect something along the lines of the paper’s endorsement of Mitt Romney in the presidential primary in April, in which they mocked Mr. Romney for abandoning his moderating tendencies and slammed GOP extremism before declaring the Massachusetts governor “the best choice of the field.” For this little noticed Senate race for the right to go up against Kirsten Gillibrand, the paper is likely to go with Bob Turner, a Queens businessman-turned-congressman, who is far less strident in his social views than Wendy Long and more dynamic than George Maragos. Mr. Turner is running very much as the candidate of New York City, and hometown pride may count for something here.