Monday, March 26, 2012

Latina Congresswoman could face callenge in reelection

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez Could Be Challenged By Puerto Rican

The New York Puerto Rican congresswoman defends her performance

by José A. Delgado |, El Nuevo Día (March 25, 2012)

WASHINGTON - Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, who is Puerto Rican, could face the challenge of a New York City Councilman of Puerto Rican origin, en route to the Democratic primary next June 26.

Councilman Eric Martin Dilan, whose father, Martin Malave Dilan, was born in Puerto Rico and is a New York State Senator, has announced his intention to challenge Velázquez for the federal seat she occupies in the lower house of the US Congress, which was redistricted after the 2010 Census.

Two other lesser-known candidates intend to run for the position.

Being a predominantly Democratic district, with a strong boricua and Dominican base, the winner of the primary would be virtually assured election to the United States House of Representatives in the November general election.

Velazquez's district - which has included areas of Brooklyn, Queens and a portion of lower Manhattan - was added an area with a high Jewish population, where the Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair and an ally of Dilan, Vito Lopez, is very strong politically, political commentator Angelo Falcón told El Nuevo Dia today.

Although Dilan has the support of the Democratic machine of Brooklyn, Velazquez has two decades in office and is long-established, said Falcón, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy (NILP), with offices in New York.

About 43% of the population of the Velazquez' district is Hispanic.

"As I move around the district and I ask people what has been her greatest achievement, people do not have an answer," Dilan said, according to the local cable TV news station "New York 1."

Velazquez, however, defends her performance and welcomed the possible challenge.

"I'm very proud of my record. It is his prerogative, but it will be an interesting experience for Dilan, "said Velazquez, who was the first and, so far, only Puerto Rican woman in Congress.

She was also the first Hispanic woman to chair a committee of the House of Representatives. She is currently the ranking minority party member on the Small Business Committee, which she headed from 2007 to 2010.

"No matter who the challenger, she's a formidable incumbent, a reformer in her county," said Falcón, who noted that Velazquez has a clean record as a government official.

Another who could face a primary challenge is Congressman Charles Rangel, a Democrat from a district that includes parts of upper Manhattan and the Bronx.

State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who is Dominican-born, has indicated that he is considering a challenge to the veteran Rangel, who has spent four decades in Congress and whose image has been affected after being censured by the full federal lower house, after it was determined that he incurred ethical violations.

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