February 11, 2014 / Brooklyn news / Will’s Watch

Liu may challenge Velazquez for Congress

Brooklyn Daily
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Insiders say former Comptroller and failed mayoral candidate John Liu is weighing a run against Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D–Sunset Park).

Liu is said to be leaning away from running against Rep. Grace Meng (D–Flushing) in his home turf in Queens, as he and Meng would split the same Chinese-American base in that district. Velazquez’s district is heavily Hispanic, but includes Sunset’s heavily Chinese Eighth Avenue, as well as Manhattan’s Chinatown — both areas that Liu won during the Democratic mayoral primary.

Liu is considered a hero by Chinese-Americans citywide, but the federal indictment of his former aide for illegal fund-raising still casts a shadow over his prospects — though he was never accused of wrongdoing.

Liu was seen hanging out with Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D–Sunset Park) during the Lunar New Year on Eighth Avenue festivities on Feb. 8, but the ex-Comptroller brushed off the rumors.

“When I’m in Queens, they’re asking me when I’m going to announce against Grace Meng. You’re asking me when I’m going to announce against Nydia Velazquez. When I was in Staten Island last week, they asked me when I was going to announce my run against Mike Grimm,” said Liu.

Liu campaigned for Velazquez in heavily Chinese areas of the district in 2012.

Velazquez’s only announced opponent at present is Dumbo attorney Jeff Kurzon.

• • •

Councilman Steve Levin (D–Greenpoint) was singing the praises of his old boss, disgraced Assemblyman and ex-Kings County Democratic Party chairman Vito Lopez, at the inauguration of Assemblywoman Maritza Davila (D–Bushwick) to Lopez’s former seat on Feb. 5 — to the shock and chagrin of some observers.

Levin lavishly praised Lopez for creating affordable housing and improving neighborhoods said one observer, who couldn’t believe how many times the councilman mentioned the disgraced pol by name.

“It was ‘Vito Lopez,’ ‘Vito Lopez,’ like four or five times,” the source said.

Levin began his career with Lopez’s oft-investigated pet organization, the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, and served as the Assemblyman’s chief-of-staff for three years before running for the Council seat in 2009. Lopez secured Levin vital endorsements from powerful unions and the Williamsburg Hasidim in the tight, seven-way race.

But after the Assembly’s ethics committee determined in 2012 that Lopez had groped and sexually harassed several staffers, and had even made salacious remarks about a 14-year-old intern, Levin insisted during his 2013 re-election campaign that he had severed all ties with his pervy former employer.

“I haven’t spoken to Vito Lopez in several months and I don’t intend to have a working relationship with him,” Levin said at an Aug. 2013 debate with anti-Lopez challenger Stephen Pierson.

Levin admitted speaking highly of his mentor at Davila’s ceremony, but claimed he only mentioned him by name once, and in the context of the seat’s past.

“In discussing the history of Bushwick, I acknowledged Vito’s contribution to affordable housing during his 30 years in office,” said Levin.

He would not say when he last spoke with Lopez.

The ceremony at Borough Hall was packed with loyal Lopez-ites, including Councilman Rafael Espinal (D–Bushwick), Espinal’s mentor and predecessor Erik Dilan, staff from the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, and several judges who owe their posts to the alleged molestor. Davila herself served as co-district leader with Lopez, and received his endorsement for her seat.

• • •

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D–Bensonhurst) is blasting Rep. Michael Grimm (R–Bay Ridge) for his temperamental exchange with NY1 reporter Michael Scotto and for voting against bringing to the floor a bill that would put off flood-insurance cost increases for Hurricane Sandy victims — a bill Grimm co-sponsored.

“Maybe Congressman Grimm should spend less time threatening reporters and more time fighting for his constituents and their homes,” said the 19-term congressman.

Grimm declined to comment on Nadler’s attack.

Grimm and 47 other GOP co-sponsors of the legislation voted against the Democrats’ attempt to bring the so-called “Insurance Affordability Act” to the floor.

Grimm faces a challenge for his Staten Island-to-Gravesend-spanning seat from Nadler ally Domenic Recchia, the former councilman for Coney Island.

• • •

Freshman Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Sunset Park) is pushing to become co-chairman of the Brooklyn delegation in the city’s legislature, insiders say.

The delegation chairs’ main role is to negotiate the city’s budget on behalf of their borough. Brooklyn is the only borough with two co-chairs, a result of a 2004 coup by then-councilmen Bill DeBlasio and Albert Vann — who joined forces to give ex-Councilman Lew Fidler the boot.

Since then, Brooklyn’s delegation has usually had one black and one white co-chairperson, most recently Councilman David Greenfield (D–Borough Park) and Councilwoman Darlene Mealy (D–Brownsvill­e).

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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