After some Internet sleuthing, we found out that a James J. Dillon did in fact challenge Congressman Joseph Crowley in the general election in 1998.
Other than that, we couldn't figure out if the poster was some sort of joke, something that someone had stashed in a closet and decided to put on a newspaper box to cause confusion.
Well, we have an answer and it comes from the man himself!
Dillon saw our column in the August 17th edition, and reached out to us. He is in fact challenging Crowley in the Democratic Primary next year. Here's an email he sent to us:
“Hi, I do indeed intend to run against Joe Crowley next year in the Democratic primary! I'm a former Chair of CB 2 and have lived in the neighborhood my entire life. I'd be happy to "habla" with you and thanks for the publicity.”
Dillon actually ran as a Republican in 1998, but that may have been because it was the same year Congressman Thomas Manton engineered his resignation in such a way that Crowley would be the only candidate who would have a chance to get on the Democratic line that year.
But next year, Dillon is apparently making his return to the Democratic fold.
In fact, one missive that Dillon actually sent to the office vis snail mail was written on letterhead from the Long Island City-based Justice William Brennan Democratic Club, which lists Dillon as president. He wrote, “the two reasons I'm running now are 1) No one should be in office for 20 years and, 2) Crowley is part of the 'Gang of 3' who stole the nomination from Bernie Sanders.”
He also included a flyer from his 1998 campaign, adding that many of ideas haven't changed. Those ideas range from term limits of eight years for congress members, getting rid of the IRS, and tuition tax credits for private-school students.
His 13 campaign platforms also include some more unique things like persuading the British Museum to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece and removing American troops from Bosnia, which we assume will have to be updated.
One of our Pol Position interns actually spotted the top half of the flyer taped to the window of a shuttered bar on Queens Boulevard last week (see photo), just adding to the intrigue of the Dillon campaign.
Anyway, we expect we'll be hearing from and speaking more with Dillon next year as that campaign season begins to heat up.