Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. discusses several recent political developments in an interview with C&S Editor Morgan Pehme, including the potential primary challenge Rep. Jose Serrano could face this year and the decision by freshman New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres to publicly break with Bronx lawmakers and back Melissa Mark-Viverito for Council Speaker.
As City & State reported last week, several Bronx Democrats say there is a groundswell of opposition to Rep. Jose Serrano and at least three names have surfaced as potential challengers to him in a primary–state Sen. Rev. Rubén Díaz, City Councilwoman Annabel Palma and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo.
Ruben Diaz Jr. said he did not expect his father to enter the race, but the borough president also argued that primaries are not a bad thing.
“It allows for a robust debate about where we are going and how is it that we can make Washington more accessible and accountable to the Bronx,” Diaz Jr. said.
The Bronx BP went on to say that Rep. Serrano has had the “luxury” of not having primary challengers for more than two decades. Diaz offered high praise for Councilwoman Palma without openly encouraging her to run.
“Annabel Palma is someone I have worked with closely for so many years,” Diaz said. “Before the redistricting she was my city councilwoman. And we did a lot of great work. She is the co-author on my living wage bill.”
In the wake of the City Council Speaker race, in which freshman City Council Member Ritchie Torres broke with the Bronx Democratic Party to back Melissa Mark-Viverito, Diaz said that he was shocked.
“People were shocked. They were blindsided,” he said. “Because the person who we believe brought Ritchie to the dance was Jimmy Vacca. So I thought, if nothing else, that Jimmy Vacca, who also wanted to be speaker, and that was part of what was happening in the Bronx, we had Jimmy Vacca and Annabel Palma, it wasn’t so easy for us. Or for the chairman, rather, and the delegation, because we had other colleagues that wanted to be speaker. But we thought, if nothing else, Jimmy Vacca should have two votes.”