Councilman Erik Dilan bid to replace Rep. Nydia Velazquez sputtered last week after he lost to the incumbent congresswoman and garnered only 31 percent of the vote. When we caught up with Dilan on Tuesday, he said he was disappointed, but would not rule out another run for Congress.
City & State: Was the outcome surprising or did you think this was always an uphill battle?
Erik Dilan: I honestly have to say that I thought I would compete better in areas where I wasn’t known, like lower Manhattan and South Brooklyn. I knew those areas would be a challenge because I was less known, but I expected to make a better effort there. If we would have done things differently in the campaign maybe we would have had a better result but it still would have been an uphill battle.
CS: What are the positives from your campaign?
ED: It was basically a four-month campaign effort and we raised close to $300,000. For four months, it wasn’t easy to get known the way I would have liked to, I do feel like my name got out and I did get known. They chose to stick with the current officeholder. Those are the positives I take out. I don’t regret my decision to run. Anytime you can get any incumbent to go out and talk to their constituents when they normally otherwise wouldn’t have, that’s a win as well.
CS: Did Assemblyman Vito Lopez say anything to you about the race?
ED: I haven’t spoken with him much. I imagine well all sit down and share our analysis. The numbers clearly showed that areas where I was known we competed, and even won. North Brooklyn I won. But in areas I wasn’t known we didn’t compete. That was the difference in the margin being so lopsided.
CS: You don’t think Vito had a role in the outcome of this race?
ED: Several people made Vito the central figure. In areas I wasn’t known it may have, but I don’t think it was a factor at all. I don’t know how much of a negative impact it was. I can’t say specifically they didn’t go for me because I was supported by Vito Lopez. There could have been tons of reasons why they didn’t support me.
CS: Have you heard anything from Velazquez?
ED: No, I don’t have her phone number. We’ve never spoken. I don’t think that would change.
CS: What’s your next move?
ED: I ‘m going to give it two weeks, and then I’ll re-evaluate things. I’ll continue to serve as councilmember. On the political front, the next thing is to make sure my state senator [Martin Dilan] and assemblyman get elected, and I have a female district leader candidate, Paula Melendez, a first-time candidate.
CS: Won’t your father’s race be more competitive?
ED: Every time someone steps up and runs we take it seriously. I don’t know my father’s opponent. If he were standing in front of me, I wouldn’t know who he is. Half the district at this juncture feels that way.
CS: Will you run for congress again?
ED: I haven’t ruled it out. If it makes no sense to run, I’ll consider that, but if it makes sense to try things differently I haven’t closed my juncture to that.
CS: Do you think a longer period campaigning would help you get better known?
ED: If I have been raising for a full cycle for two years I would have had enough money to run for a congressional race. Defeating a congressional incumbent is tough, but I’ve never been afraid to do the hard things. But it has to make sense and add up. I’ve never done something for an ego trip. If it’s not there, then it’s not there, and I can live with the facts.
CS: What did you need to improve?
ED: In areas where I wasn’t known, I needed to make a better effort in those areas to change their representative. I don’t think I did that adequately enough, and the election returns showed it.
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