She’s still got it.
Eleven-term incumbent Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D–Brooklyn) steam-rolled Dumbo attorney Jeff Kurzon in the District 7 Democratic primary on Tuesday, garnering 82 percent of the vote. Velazquez cheered the victory and promised to return to Washington stronger than ever.
“I know now that I can go there and do the people’s work without any kind of fear, because my people here are watching my back,” she said.
Kurzon’s main campaign issue was getting money out of Congress. He raised just $90,000 to Velazquez’s $613,000 and used the establishment pol’s position on the House Financial Services Committee to paint her as cozy with big banks.
At her victory party in Williamsburg’s Williams and Bailey bar, Velazquez rejected the idea she is controlled by special interests, but said she is enthusiastically a pragmatist.
“If someone writes me a check, hell yes I’ll take it,” she said. “Live in the real world! Unless we pass campaign finance reform, this is just how it works.”
Councilmen Antonio Reynoso (D–Bushwick) and Carlos Menchaca (D–Sunset Park) lauded Velazquez at the party, and she in turn referred to them as “my children.”
Velazquez took office as the first Puerto Rican woman in Congress in 1993 and represented District 12 from 1993 to 2013, when redistricting moved her to District 7. The new district encompasses Cypress Hills, Bushwick, Williamsburg, Dumbo, and Brownstone Brooklyn neighborhoods extending to Sunset Park.
Kurzon bowed out early in the evening.
“I’m just extremely proud of all my volunteers, and I think we really sent a message to Congress and to the incumbent,” he said.
The upstart faced long odds from the start, with one political strategist saying that anyone hoping to unseat an incumbent in District 7 was “delusional.” But Kurzon remained optimistic until the end.
The vanquished challenger said he isn’t sure what his next move is, but he wants to stay involved in the community he has fought hard to represent.
“You don’t need to be a public figure to be engaged,” he said.
A vast majority of Democratic District 7 voters apparently don’t feel the need to be engaged at all. Only 8,000 voters of 205,000 registered Democrats turned out for the election.