NYC CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE CONGRATULATES REP. VELAZQUEZ ON HER VICTORY IN DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY; INCUMBENT ADMITS MONEY IN POLITICS IS A PROBLEM
NEW YORK, N.Y., June 29, 2016 -- Jeff Kurzon, a Democratic congressional candidate who had relied on an unconventional volunteer-powered campaign, conceded the Democratic primary to incumbent Rep. Nydia Velazquez in the 7th District.
But while both candidates campaigned in the Lower East Side on Primary Day, Velazquez admitted to Kurzon that the campaign-finance system must be overhauled.
“I was glad to briefly speak with Rep. Velazquez early on Primary Day morning near the Grand Street co-ops and hear her agree with me that our federal system of campaign finance is wrong for our country,” Kurzon says. “I would like to see a publicly funded system with matching funds and a cap on expenditures like we have currently in New York City. I would hope Rep. Velazquez would also agree.”
Kurzon, who has run twice for the position while railing against the corrupting influence of money in politics, considers his campaign’s low cost-per-vote the real victory.
He only spent a bit less than $5,000 of his own money. That means he paid just $3.18 per vote.
While the final numbers will not be published until July, Velazquez had raised more than $500,000, , according to OpenSecrets.org. That means she spent around $50 per vote. Another candidate, Yungman Lee, also spent roughly the same for each ballot cast.
In 2014, Kurzon raised almost $100,000, and paid around $50 per vote.
“Elections in our country are now auctions. We know that whoever has the most money before the election usually wins. I hope I have demonstrated that you can run a congressional campaign on a shoestring and keep incumbents on their toes. I encourage others to run for office on this issue because the electorate will eventually wake up to it. If we want real change, we must start with the money in politics,” he says.
The 40-year-old Lower Manhattan attorney’s campaign galvanized dozens of volunteers who were in part energized by Bernie Sanders’ insurgent race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Kurzon says Velazquez’s conflict of interests impede her ability to effectively represent a district where 30 percent of children grow up in poverty. Velazquez serves on the House Financial Services Committee, takes money from Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, voted to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, voted for the $700 billion bank bailout, voted to not audit the Federal Reserve, and voted in favor of the recent PROMESA bill that benefits banks and hedge funds instead of struggling Puerto Ricans.
Unofficial results on the New York City Board of Elections website indicate the 23-year incumbent won by a large margin. With 99 percent of polls reporting, Velazquez won with 9,565 votes, or 61.65 percent. Kurzon got 1,573 votes, or 10.14 percent. Lee earned 27.73 percent with 4,302 votes.
Of 234,281 registered Democrats, less than 7 percent voted. That is an improvement from 2014’s 4 percent turnout, but Kurzon believes our democracy only works if people speak out.
“I am very grateful to everyone who voted yesterday -- including those who voted for my opponents -- because their voices were heard. I am especially thankful to our volunteers who took time away from their busy schedules to talk with residents from Woodhaven to the Lower East Side to Sunset Park, and everywhere in between. I wish Rep. Velazquez success in representing our district going forward. I thank Yungman Lee, too, for running a good campaign to challenge the status quo, which is not working well for too many people in our district,” he says.
Candidate for New York's 7th District
Jeff Kurzon for Congress
Jeff Kurzon for Congress