Over the course of her 20 years in Congress, Nydia Velazquez has earned the nickname of “La Luchadora,” or the “The Fighter.” And for the first time in almost a decade, Velazquez is facing a serious fight against three Democratic opponents in the race over the newly redrawn 7th Congressional District. In a congressional environment where the Republicans are likely to control the House and stymie Democratic proposals at every turn, Velazquez’s connections and familiarity with the issues and political system are what are needed for the two years ahead.
Whether you are a critic of her work or not, her resume is impressive, as are the many political “firsts” she has under her belt: the first Hispanic female New York City Council Member, the first Puerto Rican woman to serve in Congress and the first woman to chair Congress’s Committee on Small Business. It is her experience on this committee that is most important as the government tries to create jobs and foster economic growth.
While the criticisms that Velazquez hasn’t done enough for her constituents, especially those within our portion of her district, hold some merit, it is now virtually impossible for any Democrat to make headway in the Republican-controlled House. Instead, Velazquez focuses on working in committee to broker whatever compromises can be reached on already proposed legislation. This nuanced—yes, “insider”—view of how Congress unfortunately works at the moment is another reason we support Velazquez.
While it seems likely Velazquez will be victorious in this race, we wholeheartedly believe there are better potential candidates out there.
No candidate better communicated this change than George Martinez. His participation in the amorphous Occupy Wall Street movement might be clear grounds for some to outright dismiss him as a legitimate candidate, but in person he is decisive, clear, even inspirational. Martinez cohesively packages the ideals of OWS and makes one think that if OWS infiltrated the political system, it could be a strong antidote to the Tea Party movement.
Martinez, however, doesn’t seemed to have energized Occupy supporters as much as he needs to this late in the game. He is also very well-versed in and focused on local issues, begging the question of whether a federal position is the best fit for him.
But a defeat in this race isn’t likely to deter Martinez from politics, and we believe he will become a formidable candidate over the next few years.
Dan O’Connor is perhaps the most interesting candidate in this race—a white, New York City-born economist who is fluent in Chinese and shares many ideological similarities to libertarians. However thought-provoking O’Connor’s ideas are, he clearly has no interest in bringing more federal resources to the district.
As a City Council member, Erik Martin Dilan has proven himself to be active and engaged, but his close ties to the Brooklyn political machine are unsettling.
For this race, our nod goes to Velazquez, but we are encouraged to see more serious contenders for this district this time and hope to see better candidates in two years.
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