Members of New York City’s Congressional delegation, long relegated to the sidelines of local politics, are increasingly filling the void left by the declining influence of political party apparatchiks.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in Brooklyn, home to Democratic mayoral hopeful Bill de Blasio and his GOP rival Joe Lhota, as well as public advocate runoff contenders Letitia James and Daniel Squadron. The latest trend from the borough of hipsters, Hasidim and Caribbean homelands is the toppling of incumbents with the help of U.S. Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and Nydia Velázquez.
Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez does not forgive and she does not forget.
Ms. Velázquez, who has been staunchly battling the faction of Brooklyn Democrats once headed by disgraced former Assemblyman Vito Lopez, continued her fight today, endorsing Stephen Pierson, who is challenging Mr. Lopez’s former chief of staff, Councilman Steve Levin.
“He, like many of us, is tired of the politics of nepotism. He is tired of much-needed resources for our community being allocated outside of the district without any accountability,” Ms. Velázquez said at an event on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall. “On September 10th, the voters of the 33rd Councilmanic district will have a choice for transparency and for reform.”
A jury of his peers may have found George Zimmerman innocent, but–many miles away from the Sanford, Florida case–New York City lawmakers aren’t done with the controversy
The city’s congressional delegation gathered this afternoon in Lower Manhattan to condemn the trial’s verdict, while at the same time, praising the Department of Justice’s willingness to investigate the killing of 17-year-old Trayon Martin.
“The families should know, while they’ve lost their dear son, they’ve gained a groundswell of Americans who really want us to do the right thing,” said Congressman Charlie Rangel, the senior member of the delegation. “There’s no place that a young black male can go without carrying the additional burden of being a black male.”
The Queens Democratic Party is famously unified, as their endorsement tends to come along with most of the county’s elected officials. For former Councilwoman Melinda Katz’s borough president campaign, which was backed by the Democratic organization last month, this has proven to be the case yet again–with a slew of new endorsements announced today.
Current Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez declared their support for the Katz campaign, along with former borough president candidate and State Senator José Peralta, State Senator James Sanders, Assemblywoman Vivian Cook and Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubrey.
As he contemplates a run for City Council, scandal-scarred Vito Lopez isn’t getting any more popular just because he resigned from the State Assembly on Monday.
That was made abundantly clear at a City Hall rally yesterday, where a bevy of women legislators and candidates, including Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and Councilwoman Diana Reyna, again denounced Mr. Lopez’s candidacy and endorsed the disgraced pol’s would-be rival, Antonio Reynoso.
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.