By Robert Press
13TH CD EXTRA
There is no edition of the Bronx Voice this week for the 4th of July weekend, but here are a few items that would have been in today's column if there was a paper.
Tonight June 30th at Orchard Beach is the Annual 4th of July Bronx celebration with a huge fireworks display courtesy of State Senator Jeff Klein and Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr.
On to the 13th Congressional race to replace Charles Rangel. it was an interesting race for the seat of retiring Congressman Rangel, and there was a lot of politics that went into the race. One would have thought that Manhattan Democratic County Leader Keith Wright was the heir apparent to Congressman Rangel. After all Assemblyman Wright should have replaced Sheldon Silver as Speaker of the State Assembly. Some say that a deal was struck with then Bronx Democratic Leader Assemblyman carl Heastie to make Heastie the speaker in return for the Bronx Democratic County organization support in the 13th Congressional race for retiring Congressman Rangel's seat.
A lot happened on the way to the congressional primary however. The race wound up with nine candidates, which many thought would favor the candidate of the Manhattan and Bronx County organizations as well as the choice of retiring Congressman Rangel. This was also the third time that State Senator Adriano Espaillat was running for the congressional seat, having lost the two times before to incumbent Rangel. So what happened on the way to Washington for Assemblyman Wright?
The endorsements came in early for Assemblyman Wright, and it looked like he would receive the majority of the votes. However I predicted that candidate Wright would not receive more than 35 percent of the vote. That came to be a fact as wright garnered just about 35 percent of the vote, so what went wrong.
As the race was winding down the last two weeks it seemed to many that candidate Wright was coasting to what was viewed as a slim margin of victory. Candidate Espaillat was going into high gear as the election grew near receiving endorsement after endorsement each day. There seemed to be splits in both the Manhattan and Bronx county organizations and even in some so called Bronx families or political clubs. Ruben Diaz was supporting Candidate Wright, but Ruben Diaz was supporting candidate Espaillat. How could that be you say? Ruben Diaz Jr. with the Bronx Democratic County organization were supporting candidate Wright. Ruben Diaz Sr., with what appeared to be State Senate Democrats were supporting candidate Espaillat. It seemed to be the State Assembly Democrats against the State Senate Democrats at one point with candidate Espaillat getting defectors from the assembly side.
Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj was a big supporter of candidate Wright, and the only Bronx A.D. won by Wright was Gjonaj's 80th A.D. However Gjonaj's good friend and partner in the North Bronx Democratic Club State Senator Jeff Klein was on Team Espaillat. Candidate Espaillat began the election with only the support of State Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assemblyman Victor Pichardo. Winner Espaillat in his victory party was surrounded by several state senators, assembly members from Manhattan and the Bronx, and several city council members from Manhattan and the Bronx also.
So why did Keith Wright lose? I believe it was a combination of factors including the coasting of the campaign the last two weeks of the election. The very poor showing of candidate Adam Powell was a contributing factor as may thought Powell would be the deciding factor in a Wright victory with candidate Powell garnering around 10 percent of the vote. That did not happen as Powell received only 6 percent of the vote, and was invisible in the Bronx especially in the 78th A.D. where his main support came from the current 78th A.D. Assemblyman Jose Rivera. Clyde Williams was not the deciding factor as he received about the same amount of votes he did in 2012. Suzan Johnson Cook however received 4 percent of the vote which would have gone mostly to candidate Wright. So there you have it - The very poor showing of candidate Powell, and the small percentage candidate Johnson Cook received seem to have made the difference in allowing State Senator Adriano Espaillat to become Congressman Adriano Espaillat.
Lastly, at the beginning of the 13th Congressional race this year candidate Espaillat said to me, 'This year is going to be different, I am not running against an incumbent', That may have also been an important reason he won. We are going to have to see if heads roll in the Manhattan and Bronx Democratic County organizations, as there have been rumors that Manhattan Democratic County Leader Keith Wright, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Bronx Democratic County Leader Marcos Crespo are mad as hell in this defeat of both organizations.