Is Velazquez out for Rivera’s blood?
By all accounts, Brooklyn Rep. Nydia Velazquez is furious at Bronx Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera, who supported Velazquez’s opponent in the June 28 Democratic primary — and she may be Bronx-bound to exact revenge.
The Brooklyn Democratic organization, led by Bushwick Assemblyman Vito Lopez, had declared war on Velazquez, championing Bushwick Councilman Erik Dilan’s bid to depose the 20-year incumbent, and recruiting out-of-towners like Rivera to join the fight.
On primary night, the anti-Velazquez crusade appeared rather impotent; she won with around 58 percent of the vote.
From Velazquez’s view, it’s not quite time to kiss and make up, at least as far as Rivera is concerned.
Instead, she is “out for Naomi Rivera’s blood,” Bronx Times editor Bob Kappstatter reports.
Kappstatter, dean of Bronx journalists who for many years wrote a column on Bronx politics for the NY Daily News, says that Velazquez told him that she spoke twice to Rivera’s challenger Mark Gjonaj, an Albanian-American real estate broker. She told him that she planned to meet again with Gjonaj after she takes a vacation, and that “I think I can help him.”
Kappstatter says Velazquez told him: “I’m going to go in and I’m going to campaign. I can assure you, that when I come to the Bronx, all those Latinos know who I am. Believe me, those Latinos, they love me!”
Velazquez told the Brooklyn Eagle yesterday that she had not made an endorsement in the Rivera-Gjonaj race. Gjonaj “is a man I don’t know,” she said.
She said that should she decide to support a candidate, she would go to the Bronx and actively campaign there. She declined to say that she was misquoted.
While Velazquez usually makes it a point to support female candidates, she said, it would be difficult for her to support Rivera. “This woman came to my district to campaign against me,” she told the Eagle.
Asked if she had previously known Rivera, Velazquez said, “Not really … she’s from the Bronx.”
Gjonaj campaign manager Emmett Hare told the Eagle that “Nydia Velazquez has recognized Mark as a candidate that will work hard and deliver the representation we need in the 80th District, and has pledged to endorse Mark and bolster his support, especially in the Latino community where she is so well known and respected.
“We are honored to have her support.”
Rivera didn’t return several phone calls from the Eagle.
The Politicker blog on June 15 reported Rivera’s endorsement of Dilan at a press conference in the company of state Sen. John Sampson, Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, Assemblyman Joe Lentol, Councilman Steve Levin and other Brooklyn Democratic heavyweights.
While the congressional primary was in June, the Democratic state primary in which Gjonaj will face Rivera will take place on Thursday, Sept. 13.