Who will rep Brooklyn in Washington? Three borough legislators face primaries on Tuesday ahead of congressional elections this fall, and these contests — all Democratic — will all but decide the election in three districts that routinely go blue. So here they are:
Incumbent Rep. Nydia Velazquez is fending off upstarts Yungman Lee and Jeff Kurzon, who are also vying for the majority Latino district — which includes parts of Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Bushwick, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Red Hook, Sunset Park, and Williamsburg.
Lee claims Velazquez is ignoring a growing Asian population and both he and Kurzon claim the 23-years-and-running legislator is too deeply entrenched with Washington politics and big banks.
• Divorced with no children. She lives in Red Hook.
• Supports and introduced presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at a Sunset Park rally earlier this year.
• Raised in rural Puerto Rico and supported its independence early in her career but has dropped the issue since joining congress. She supports a bailout of the financially stricken commonwealth.
• Divorced with two children. He resides in Chinatown.
• A Chinese-born lawyer and banking big wig who worked as banking regulator under former Gov. Mario Cuomo.
• He strongly believes the charges against police officer Peter Liang, who a jury convicted of manslaughter after he shot and killed an unarmed black man in a housing complex stairwell, were disproportionate to his actions.
• Unmarried with no children. Kurzon lives in Chinatown.
• The lawyer lost badly when he primaried Velazquez in 2014, capturing just under 20 percent of the vote.
• The self-described “Bernie-crat” strongly supports federal legalization of medical marijuana, believes large Wall Street banks should be taxed to pay for “essential government services,” and all Americans should have free healthcare.
• Velazquez has made housing a central issue. The last bill she introduced would punish landlords who deliberately let apartments fall apart to force out federally subsidized tenants.
• Lee claims Velazquez has not adequately represented the district’s Asian population.
• Kurzon wants campaign finance reform and accused Velazquez of “relying on political action committee money” and for taking money from big banks. He also argued that Velazquez beat him in 2014 because of low voter turnout.
There isn’t enough room in this race for two challengers, and Velazquez will handily take it. Lee and Kurzon represent two different constituencies, and it is unlikely voters will unite under one of them. But an increased turnout by Asian voters, mobilized by Lee and Liang’s conviction, could force the incumbent to tend more to that electorate moving forward.
Oliver Rosenberg’s challenge to long-time Rep. Jerrold “Jerry” Nadler’s hold over the district — which includes Borough Park, Kensington and parts of Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, Red Hook, Sunset Park, and Midwood — marks the incumbent’s first primary battle in two decades. If that doesn’t pique your interest, the 30-year-old Rosenberg contacted state Attorney General Preet Bharara’s office in May, alleging that 69-year-old Nadler’s cronies attempted to buy him out of the race, offering generous donations to fund a campaign for City Council next year in return for Rosenberg surrendering his bid.
• Born in Brooklyn, but now residing in Manhattan, Nadler is married to Joyce Miller, and has a son Michael.
• Served 24 years in the lower house, after 16 years in the state Assembly.
• Formerly of the Eighth District, Nadler campaigned for and won the 10th District in 2012 following redistricting.
• Considered one of the most progressive members of congress.
• Unmarried with no children. He resides in Manhattan.
• A former investment banker, he is now a startup founder working on a phone app that allows users to compare doctors’ fees.
• Founder of Or Chayim, a congregation providing Shabbat services for gay members of the Jewish community.
• Used to be a registered Republican.
• The big issue is Nadler’s support of the Iran nuclear deal, which drew the ire of many pro-Israel local pols and inspired Rosenberg to run.
• Rosenberg argues Nadler’s support of the deal also shows a disregard to gay rights, as being homosexual is a crime punishable by death in Iran.
• Rosenberg is also appealing to Millenials with his support of marijuana legalization, fighting climate change, and decreasing student debt.
The Iran deal may hurt Nadler, whose district includes large Jewish enclaves in Borough Park and Manhattan, but not enough to do any serious damage. Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D–Borough Park), recently endorsed him in protest, despite acknowledging that they “disagree on most issues.” Rosenberg has himself acknowledged that his sexuality will make it tough to win over religiously conservative Jews, however, while many gay Jewish leaders are supporting Nadler.
Twenty-four-year incumbent Rep. Carolyn Maloney, 70 — whose seat includes Greenpoint and parts of Williamsburg — faces unknown first-time political aspirant Pete Lindner, who has personal gripes against her. Chiefly, the 66-year-old computer programmer believes she was part of a conspiracy to thwart his efforts to impeach a federal judge, who Lindner claims attempted to plant child porn on his computer. Maloney told Our Town there is “not a shred of truth” to Lindner’s accusations. Both unsuccessfully tried to get the other kicked off the ballot on technicalities.
• Widowed in 2009 when her husband died climbing in the Himalayas. She lives in Manhattan and has two daughters, Christina and Virginia.
• Became the first woman to give birth while serving in office when serving as a city Councilwoman.
• First degree black belt in Taekwondo.
• Single with no kids. He lives in Manhattan.
• Computer programmer and Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate.
• Campaign website is 4Petesake.NYC.
• Active on Yelp, he recommends the “shifu chicken” at Han Village in Manhattan.
• Other than his personal gripe with Maloney, Lindner’s causes include marijuana legalization and gun control, particularly advocating so-called “smart guns” — firearms that will only work with authorized users. Maloney is also very vocal on gun control, especially in the wake of the Orlando massacre.
• Locally, Maloney has repeatedly called on the city to buy waterfront land in her district needed to complete Bushwick Inlet Park, and has taken a direct interest in the closure of the L train tunnel between Williamsburg and Manhattan.
This is not a contest, but we will try the chicken.
Here’s how to find your polling site, and happy voting.
—with Colin Mixson, Dennis Lynch, and Tatiana Hernandez