Nydia Velazquez made a whirlwind tour of senior centers in the Lower East Side this afternoon, stumping for last minute votes in her fierce primary against City Councilman Erik Dilan alongside Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver, State Senator Daniel Squadron and her colleague in the House, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.
Ms. Maloney represents the area just north of here, and in 2010, she too fought a tough primary challenger, Reshma Saujani. That race turned out not to be as close as the media was making it out to be, as Ms. Maloney’s campaign pulled out all the stops, accusing Ms. Saujani of sounding like a Republican and ultimately thrashing her by 60 points. Now that Ms. Velazquez is in the same boat, Ms. Maloney says that she hopes her longtime colleague has enjoyed the ride.
“I miss it!” she said. “I wish I had a primary challenge. It is always fun. It really forces you out in personal contact. I love democracy. I love voting!”
Ms. Maloney added, “The founding fathers put us on a very short leash. We run every two years which is very grueling. So you may not have a primary but you have a general election every two years.”
The congressman made a broad case for electing Ms. Velazquez over Mr. Dilan, citing her “long record of service to the community,” and her work on issues around seniors, housing and small business.
Later, at the UJC senior center nearby, in a room full of elderly Jews in which most of the men sported yarmulkes and Israeli flags hung on opposing walls, Ms. Maloney repeated the claim, calling Ms. Velazquez “my dear friend and sister.”
The race between Mr. Dilan and Ms. Velazquez may come down to the Jewish vote, with Mr. Dilan’s political patron, Brooklyn Democratic boss Vito Lopez, sparring with the congresswoman over a summer camp run by the district’s large Hasidic community. Mr. Dilan has called Ms. Velazquez anti-Israel, while Chuck Schumer and Ed Koch defended her record.
Ms. Maloney tried to put those concerns to rest.
“I want you to know Nydia and I have been great partners, not only in seniors, not only in children, but also in supporting Israel. Nydia is a great friend of Israel. She will be there for Israel,” Ms. Maloney said.
In case any one missed it, she added a moment later, “She cares for you on small issues whether its your social security check or whether its larger issues such as supporting Israel and helping Israel in any way.”
Before handing off the mic, Ms. Maloney made one final plea: “A vote for Nydia is a vote for yourself,” she said. “And a vote for Israel.”