Showdown in the Bronx
September 19th, 2008

For years the Bronx Democratic Party organization, headed by State Assemblymember Jose Rivera, has seemed a throwback to a bygone era. It controlled who won elective offices in the borough, as Rivera rewarded his friends and especially his family, getting his son elected to City Council at age 23 and grooming him for the borough presidency, while his daughter got an Assembly seat.

But that could change. A series of reversal on primary day last week have left the organization facing what Jonathan Hicks in today’s Times calls “its deepest internal crisis in years, one that threatens to oust its chairman.”

Among the setbacks: Rivera’s candidate, incumbent State Sen. Efrain Gonzalez, running while under indictment, lost to challenger Pedro Espada. The candidate for Civil Court, backed by the rival Rainbow Rebellion, defeated Rivera’s pick. And Rivera’s efforts to oust incumbent legislators allied with the Rainbow Rebellion all failed, including a particularly divisive fight for the seat held by Assemblymember Michael Benjamin.

“Every candidate that we supported tonight, that’s part of this coalition, won and won by an enormous margin,” Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz, a member of the rebellion, told reporters on primary day. “I believe that the county Democratic organization has been exposed as a paper tiger.”

Now the factions have split over when the party organization should meet next. The rebellion has called a gathering for Monday. Rivera, according to Hicks, has threatened to file suit to stop the session, calling it illegal. He wants the party organization to convene the following Sunday, instead.

The fight is not just over scheduling. At their Sunday meeting, reports John DeSio, Rainbow Rebellion members probably will select Assemblymember Carl Heastie as party leader and cancel Rivera’s meeting. “In all likelihood, the entire situation would end up in court shortly thereafter,” DeSio predicts.

Regardless of what happens there, some predict change — this year’s mantra — will come. Even if the primary results do not lead to a shift in leadership, Son of Harlem wrote on Room 8, they do “signify a change in the guard for elections in the Bronx — the old way to win in the Bronx no longer holds.”

By on September 19, 2008, 11:41 am
In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing | Comments Off on Showdown in the Bronx

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