Friday, February 27, 2009

Rivera Confirms Candidacy, Again

We have a new report that City Councilman Joel Rivera is, indeed, going to be a candidate in the upcoming special election, this time from Gotham Gazette, which reports:

Councilmember Joel Rivera said yesterday “his shoes are on,” and he is ready to announce his candidacy as soon as current Bronx Prez Adolfo Carrion steps down formally, which, the young Rivera added, is scheduled for Sunday.

Rivera had previously confirmed to us that he'd be in the race, though there had been some "will he or won't he" noise in political circles over the past week.

--John DeSio

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Video: Diaz Accepts BFRDC Endorsement

Here is the final video of the night, which consists of Assemblyman Ruben Diaz thanking the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club for its endorsement.

--John DeSio

Video: Dinowitz, Press, Speak On Behalf Of Diaz

Here is some video of this evening's meeting of the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club. First, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz speaks in support of Assemblyman Ruben Diaz's campaign for borough president.

Something worth noting: At about 0:40 in the video City Councilman G. Oliver Koppell states that his colleague, Larry Seabrook, has told him he is "likely" to run himself.

Next, Robert Press, vice chairman of the Committee of 100 Democrats, does the same.

--John DeSio

BFRDC Backs Diaz, Rivera Shut Out In Riverdale

I just got back from this evening's meeting of the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club, the Riverdale/Kingsbridge political powerhouse and the home club of Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz.

To no one's surprise, the club endorsed Assemblyman Ruben Diaz in the upcoming special election. The final vote tally was 38 for Diaz, one for Israel Ruiz and three not to endorse. City Councilman Joel Rivera, Diaz's most likely opponent, did not receive any votes.

Diaz came in after the meeting to thank the club and its members for their support. I'll have video up of that, as well as speeches by Dinowitz and Robert Press of the Committee of 100 Democrats, shortly.

This makes the BFRDC the third club to officially back Diaz, after the Liberty Democratic Association and the aforementioned C-100-D.

--John DeSio

UPDATE: Video here and here.

Caption: State Committeewoman Helen Morik, Democratic District Leader Randi Martos,Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Assemblyman Ruben Diaz, and Heidi Schwartz BFRDC President.

Senator Serrano Not In The Race

While we have confirmation that Assemblyman Ruben Diaz and City Councilman Joel Rivera (and maybe Israel Ruiz and Larry Seabrook) will be involved in the upcoming special election, we've also been working to track down answers from anyone else who has ever been considered for that job.

With that in mind, I got a hold of Brian Levinson, spokesman for State Senator Jose M. Serrano, to ask if his boss was interested in pursuing the seat. There was a time not too long ago when Serrano, the son of Congressman Jose Serrano, was considered to be a front-runner for the seat himself.

Levinson informs us that Senator Serrano is staying out of the special election, which comes as no real surprise to us at this point. Levinson added that the senator was unsure what his involvement would be regarding his involvement in the race.

"The Senator is not running, and he's not sure right now to what extent he'll get involved in the race," said Levinson.

Diaz Campaign Office, Complete With Huge Diaz Photo, Is Open

So we took a ride the other day to check out the campaign HQ of Assemblyman Ruben Diaz, located at Third Avenue and 179th Street, south of St. Barnabas Hospital. It wasn't open when we got there, but we still took a few pics for our own amusement.

And we can't forget the huge, almost dictatorial photo of Diaz on the sign, which reminded Candice of something from the Middle East. Having never been to the Middle East, my initial thought was Che Guevara.

--John DeSio

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Committee of 100 Backs Diaz

The Committee of 100 Democrats, a political club based in Assemblyman Jose Rivera’s 78th Assembly District, just announced their endorsement of Assemblyman Ruben Diaz Jr. over the ousted Bronx Democratic County chairman’s son, City Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera.

“While we have spoken to other candidates there appears to be no serious competition for Ruben Diaz Jr.,” said Vice Chairman Robert Press.

The resurrected northwest Bronx political club of the late Dominick Fusco, whose membership has been aligned with Rainbow Rebellion leaders in the still ongoing county chair fray, made the endorsement following a special executive committee meeting convened this past weekend.

“We feel Ruben Diaz Jr. has been a voice of the people and has fought for concerns of the people of the Bronx during his time in elected office,” Press added.

The Committee’s president, Ricky Martinez, is also rumored to be eyeing Assemblyman Rivera’s seat for a run.

--Candice M. Giove

Radio, Radio

Tonight, I'll be a guest on the "Perez Notes," hosted by Roberto Perez. Topics will include the upcoming special election, as well as City and State politics in general.

The 7 p.m. guest will be Azi Paybarah of the New York Observer, and I'm sure there will be interesting discussion from all parties.

Listen here.

--John DeSio

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Who's In, Who's Out?

Yesterday, Liz Benjamin at the Daily News wrote a piece that cast a bit of shadow on the presumably inevitable campaign of City Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera in the upcoming special election.

Benjamin asked Assemblyman Jose Rivera, the councilman's father, about his son's presumed campaign, and later if he might run himself. In both cases, Assemblyman Rivera offered some cryptic responses, and confirmed nothing.

I have also heard from a number of sources that Councilman Rivera may not run for borough president. But I've also heard directly from the councilman that he would run. Until I hear otherwise, I'll take the councilman's word for it.

In related news, the loudest rumor of the day is that another City Councilman, Larry Seabrook, is seriously considering a run in the special election. I haven't heard from Seabrook's camp yet to firm this up or shoot it down.

"As far as I know, that is only a rumor," said Seabrook spokesperson Alison Crouch, who said she would get back to me with more info if she had it.

--John DeSio

Agosto Explains LDA Endorsement Further

Kenny Agosto, district leader in the 80th Assembly District, took a few minutes over the weekend to further explain why his Liberty Democratic Association chose to endorse Assemblyman Ruben Diaz for Bronx Borough President.

As we know, the LDA has in recent weeks gone to battle with Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera, City Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera's sister, and Agosto spoke happily about thwarting what he described as an attempt by the assemblywoman to stack the club and take over its leadership.

Agosto said his club chose to endorse Diaz because they felt he was the right man for the job, and because they were disappointed with Councilman Rivera’s record in the City Council, particularly as the health committee chairperson.

“I’m not doing this because I was mad at the Riveras,” said Agosto. “The person who takes over the borough presidency is going to be the political persona of the Bronx, and we need someone that’s going to respond.”

Agosto added that Diaz has practical experience as a member of the State Assembly and that he has been responsive to the needs of his constituents.

“We’re not picking someone just because he’s not someone else,” said Agosto. “There’s a record to run on. We need someone who is pragmatic, who is progressive, who’s going to do right by us.”

--John DeSio

Monday, February 23, 2009

Rivera Camp Not Surprised By County Endorsement

So, just what do the people surrounding City Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera's campaign think about the news that the Bronx Democratic organization has backed Assemblyman Ruben Diaz in the special election?

They aren't fazed.

"It's not a surprise," said Mike Nieves, Rivera's campaign manager.

Why no shock? Diaz and county chairman Assemblyman Carl Heastie are personal friends, and the two men worked together as members of the "Rainbow Rebellion" to oust Assemblyman Jose Rivera, the councilman's father, as county chairman a few months back.

--John DeSio

BFRDC Endorsement Meeting Thursday

The Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club will pick its candidate in the special election on Thursday night. The club, which covers the northwest Bronx neighborhoods of Riverdale and Kingsbridge and serves as the political home of Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, is expected to back Assemblyman Ruben Diaz.

The meeting will take place at the club's HQ, 304 West 231st Street, and will start at 7:30 p.m. For more info, call (718)796-6177.

--John DeSio

A Rivera For Ruben

Assemblyman Ruben Diaz can count on the support of at least one Rivera in the special election for Bronx borough president.

Haile Rivera, who first came to prominence after winning a dinner with then-candidate Barack Obama in 2007 (he later would become a full-time campaign aid for the current president), has announced his support for Diaz.

Haile Rivera is no relation to City Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera, Diaz's declared opposition. Haile had been considering a run for the 14th City Council District seat against incumbent Maria Baez, but has since dropped out of that race.

"The Bronx has nearly 214,000 Dominican-Americans, a community that is rapidly growing in our Borough, and I believe that Assemblyman Diaz will be a Borough President for all Bronxites," said Rivera. "I have known Rubencito for almost ten years and could attest that helping our community is a passion of his. I will be putting all my resources, including the many contacts I made while working for President Barack Obama’s campaign, behind his candidacy."

Rivera added, "I have been a strong advocate for changing the old-school politics for a politics of people and community. That is what Rubencito’s campaign represents."

--John DeSio

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ruiz Moves Campaign Ahead

Israel Ruiz is sending clear signals that he intends to move forward with his exploration in regards to the upcoming special election for Bronx borough president.

Ruiz issued a press release Sunday night to a variety of media outlets. Included was a copy of his resume, as well as a reminder that he was, indeed, considering a run, if not for borough president then at least for City Council in September.

--John DeSio

Bronx Dems Make It Official, Back Diaz In SpecElec

Apparently, yesterday's meeting of the Bronx Democratic organization was not as "unofficial" as I was originally told.

The county organization has just issued a release announcing that they will be backing Assemblyman Ruben Diaz in the upcoming special election for borough president.

"The Bronx Democratic Party is very proud to support Assemblyman Diaz for Bronx Borough President. He is well equipped to perform as our Borough President and would govern for residents of all corners of the Bronx," said party chairman and Assemblyman Carl Heastie in the release.

Of course, Diaz is psyched.

"I am honored to receive the support of the Bronx Democratic Party. The Bronx Democratic Party has always represented the hard working families of the Bronx and I am proud to continue in that tradition. I look forward to campaigning with members of the Party in the weeks ahead," said Diaz in the release.

The release points out that all Bronx public officials and party officials were invited to the meeting, and adds that Diaz received the "overwhelming support" of those in attendance.

UPDATE: I have a few more specifics about yesterday's meeting at County. 18 of the 24 district leaders attended, including representation from all but one of the assembly districts. One abstention puts the vote total at 17-0-1, well above the majority needed for the endorsement. Again, all district leaders, public officials and other party officials were invited to attend.

--John DeSio

Polanco Not Running, Bronx Republicans Considering Endorsement In SpecElec

One of the interesting things about a special election is that members of any political party, or no party at all, can vote. One need only be a registered voter to participate. This means that members of the Bronx Republican, Conservative, Independence and Working Families parties will have a chance to make their voices heard, unlike in just about every other Bronx election, where the winner of the Democratic primary is the de facto winner of the seat.

It also means that anyone can run, regardless of political affiliation, and potentially wrest the borough presidency away from Democratic hands. One Republican who had been keeping a close eye on the seat is J.C. Polanco, the Bronx Republican Commissioner at the Board of Elections and a leader within what exists of the Bronx Republican Party.

When Adolfo Carrion was first reported to be headed to Washington and the Obama administration, Polanco told me that he was very interested in the seat, and would be weighing his options. Over the weekend, Polanco said that he had come to a decision, and would not be a candidate in the special election.

That's not to say the Republicans won't be involved in the race, or that they won't field their own candidate. Polanco said that Bronx Republican Chairman Joseph "Jay" Savino has been approached by potential candidates, both Republicans and Democrats, for his endorsement, and that the Republicans would be screening candidates shortly.

"Borough Hall under GOP leadership would be great for The Bronx and the party," said Polanco via email, "But there are great candidates on both sides of the aisle for Bronx Borough President."

--John DeSio

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Unofficial Democratic County Vote Goes For Diaz, Others Show Support At Campaign Meetup

A few notes...

--This morning, an unofficial meeting of the Bronx Democratic district leaders and other elected officials was held at the party's new HQ on Eastchester Road. According to the reports of several attendees, Assemblyman Ruben Diaz received the support of every district leader in attendance save one, who abstained. While several district leaders did not attend the vote (note--all were invited), I am assured that a majority of district leaders were in the room when the vote was taken.

Several elected officials voiced their support for Diaz's campaign at the meeting. Council Member Maria del Carmen Arroyo, also attended the meeting, but did not voice support for any candidate. Arroyo is considered to be a supporter of Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera. I am also told no one at the meeting spoke up for Rivera.

--At the Diaz Campaign meeting later in the day, sources connected to that campaign tell me over 100 attended the event from all corners of the Borough. "This is a grassroots effort, and we have the troops to prove it," said one Diaz supporter.

Elected officials at the meeting included City Council Members Helen Diane Foster and Jimmy Vacca, both of whom had been considered potential candidates for the post. Diaz spoke, and thanked them for their support, specifically mentioning that he knew they had also thought of running.

Other elected officials at the meeting included County Chairman and Assemblyman Carl Heastie, City Councilwoman Annabel Palma, Assembly Members Jeff Dinowitz, Aurelia Greene, Mike Benjamin and Michael Benedetto; and State Senators Rev. Ruben Diaz (surprise!) and Ruth Hassell-Thompson.

UPDATE: I have been informed that the Diaz meeting was for "captains," meaning that these volunteers will lead the efforts for Diaz (polling, petitions, recruitment) in their respective communities. As it was explained to me, the Diaz campaign expects many, many more people to jump aboard the effort through the work of these individuals.

SECOND UPDATE: There is some confusion on the street as to whether or not the endorsement meeting was "unofficial," as several observers have stated to me today the the Bronx Democratic County Organization has actually endorsed Diaz. I'll wait for the press release.

THIRD UPDATE: It's official.

FOURTH UPDATE: A previous version of this post indicated that Councilman G. Oliver Koppell had spoken up in favor of Diaz during the meeting of the county organization. In fact, Koppell offered high praise of Heastie, but I have conflicting reports regarding what he said about Diaz, though he certainly did not speak out in opposition to him.

--John DeSio

Diaz Confab To Kick Off Momentarily

While we won't have anyone inside, we would like to point out that we've received several reports noting that Assemblyman Ruben Diaz's campaign is holding its first major organizing meeting today. In just a few minutes, in fact.

We'll let you know what we hear when we hear it, including who was there (and who wasn't).

--John DeSio

Liberty Democrats First To Back Diaz

Well, that was quick.

The Liberty Democratic Association has announced that it will throw its weight behind Assemblyman Ruben Diaz in the upcoming special election. LDA is a fairly new club, but has played a major role in the shaping of the Borough political atmosphere in recent months.

De facto club leader Kenny Agosto played a key role in the battle between Carl Heastie and Jose Rivera to head the Bronx Democratic Party when, as district leader, he declared his loyalty to Heastie. Agosto, a former Rivera supporter, gave Heastie a majority of district leaders with his change.

More recently, Agosto and LDA participated in a velvet revolution of sorts, purging Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera's supporters, and thus her influence, from the board of LDA, which is the kind of thing you do before you decide to endorse her political enemy over her brother, City Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera.

More to come.

--John DeSio

(Caption: Liberty Dems (from l. to r.):Treasurer Diane D'Ambrosio - Pelham Pkwy.; Sgt. At Arms Dr. Charles Gorelick - Bronxdale; Democratic District Leader Kenny Agosto - 80th AD; Bronx Borough President Candidate Ruben Diaz, Jr.; Democratic State Committeeman Joseph McManus - 80th AD; Democratic State Committeewoman Diane Cerino - 80th AD; Democratic District Leader Miriam Schwartz - 80th AD; and Former President Sallie Caudwell - Norwood.)

Friday, February 20, 2009

And Just For The Record...

...both Assemblyman Ruben Diaz and City Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera confirmed that they will be running in the special election, though that should come as no surprise.

Game on.

--John DeSio

Adolfo Carrion's Last Public Day: Video

Here are a few video's I took today at Adolfo Carrion's final public act as Bronx Borough president, his 2009 "State of the Borough" address.

First, here is the retrospective on Carrion's career as the chief executive of The Bronx.

Next, we have the first have of his final press conference as borough president:

Here's part two:

--John DeSio

Hey, Rev. Diaz, Who Ya Got?

As seen on the Village Voice, here is a link to my video of State Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz discussing just what he's looking for in a borough presidential candidate.

I wonder who he's talking about?

--John DeSio

Israel Ruiz Considering A SpecElec Run

One thing we’ve been doing around the office is tracking down the wide array of different potential candidates who have mentioned, at one time or another, that they might consider pursuing the borough presidency (with two confirmed, of course).

One such candidate is former State Senator and City Councilman Israel Ruiz, who told me on Friday that he was also interested in jumping into the special election.

“I’m exploring,” said Ruiz, who recently sent out a mailing looking for campaign contributions to former contributors.

Ruiz said that nothing is final, and that he is also considering a run for borough president or for City Council in the 14th District against incumbent Maria Baez.

Ruiz held that council seat until 1997, when he ran for borough president against Fernando Ferrer.

(Though, to be fair, Ruiz did not seek out a Ferrer contest. When Ruiz announced for borough president, Ferrer was planning a run for mayor against Rudy Giuliani. When Ferrer opted out of the mayoral race, Ruiz stayed in the beep race rather than finagle his way back to the City Council. Obviously, Ferrer won, and Ruiz’s former seat was filled by Adolfo Carrion.)

Ruiz was unsuccessful in 2001 and 2003 races against Baez for the seat. Ruiz also ran for his former State Senate seat in 2006 against Efrain Gonzalez Jr, a seat he had held until 1989, when he was convicted of lying on a loan application. Upon his release from jail, Ruiz was victorious in the City Council race.

Ruiz said he’s spoken about his potential return to a number of people, and all the response he has gotten is positive.

“People are saying they’d like to have a discussion about who should be the next borough president, and they want me to be a part of that discussion,” said Ruiz. “The Bronx is really hurting, and we have to come up with solutions.”

--John DeSio

Welcome To The Thunderdome

The Bronx is in a very unique political situation right now.

With this week’s announcement that Adolfo Carrion would officially be heading to Washington as President Barack Obama’s director of urban affairs, the Bronx now faces the first borough wide special election for the seat of Bronx Borough President in its history, and possibly the first borough wide special election in the history of the City (we're still checking).

With that in mind, we here at the Bronx Press Review/Riverdale Review understand there will be a hunger for news about this race and it's associated consequences. To fill that need, John DeSio and Candice M. Giove will be providing daily updates about the race, covering all aspects of the contest from the important to the minutia.

Stay tuned.