In the wake of Councilman Erik Martin Dilan’s congressional campaign announcement yesterday, Rep. Nydia Velazquez made her first public comments last night about what’s likely to be her toughest primary challenger in years.
In a pitch for an endorsement at New Kings Democratic Club in Greenpoint, Velazquez attributed Dilan’s challenge to his close association with Brooklyn Democratic Leader Vito Lopez.
“I’m going to have a primary because I’m someone who’s trying to make a difference,” she said. “We have someone who was asked to run by Kings County, because I dared to ask about some things that were happening.”
Velazquez never mentioned Dilan or Lopez by name, but she did mention her support of Superfund status for the Gowanus Canal as one such controversial stance. After that occurred, Velazquez said, she was told by supporters of developing the Gowanus that these interests would be “providing resources” for someone to challenge her. She did not elaborate on the identities of those people.
Later, Velazquez also mentioned her split with Lopez over development of the Broadway Triangle as another disagreement.
Politically, Velazquez and Lopez have also split on several recent races, including a 2010 district leader race by Esteban Duran against Lopez, and in a 2011 special election for ex-Assemblyman Darryl Towns’ seat. The anti-Lopez New Kings Democrats ended up endorsing Velazquez last night.
Also of note:
-Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, also on hand to make an endorsement pitch, was quizzed by a member of the club about his good relationship with Lopez. But Jeffries did not back down in front of the tough crowd about the close ties, saying the relationship had partially been a “strategic” one made on behalf of his Fort Green-based district.
“As it relates to housing, Vito Lopez has been one of the strongest champions of preserving affordable hosuing…as well as creating affordable housing,” he said.
Jeffries also said he had broken with the political establishment on a number of issues, including redistricting reform. And despite having a good relationship with Lopez, Jeffries still landed the endorsement of the New Kings Democrats last night. The club has worked closely with Jeffries on a number of issues.
-Jeffries’ opponent, Councilman Charles Barron, was asked during a question-and-answer session about his controversial eulogy for Muammar Gaddafi after the dictator’s death last fall.
Far from backing away, Barron said Gaddafi’s legacy had been misrepresented by the press, and that the “more liberal of us” were disappointed that the dictator had too often “capitulated to the West.”
Barron also said there was never any proof that Gaddafi had been behind the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 259 people, though a high-ranking Libyan official has said that Gaddafi was responsible.
“Did he sometimes kill his own people? They’re in a [civil] war,” Barron added. “Did [George W.] Bush let people die in New Orleans? Yes.”
New Kings posted full endorsement results on their website
12th Congressional District – Nydia Velazquez
10th Congressional District – Hakeem Jeffries
50th Assembly District – No Endorsement
District Leader, 50th Assembly District – Lincoln Restler
District Leader, 52nd Assembly District – Chris Owens
Civil Court Judge, Countywide Races – No Endorsement
Civil Court Judge, 2nd District – No Endorsement
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