Rev. Diaz, AOC and other political news

Rev. Ruben Diaz announces his run for Congress in 2020 for NY-15. Photo: Robert Press.

Rev. Diaz for Congress Kickoff
Last Saturday’s announcement seemed anticlimactic except for the cheers he got from his clergy following. Rev. Diaz’s decision came as no surprise to me as I have tweeted about it weeks ago. Two weeks ago, he won The Bronx Chronicle’s fantasy Rumble in the Bronx NY15 election match-up against 15 other tournament-seeded candidates. After four rounds of voting over six days, Diaz emerged victorious over Samelys Lopez (a possible Justice Democrats-anointed insurgent à la AOC) who surprised many to become a March Madness finalist. Whomever runs against him in next June’s Democratic party primary will surely raise a boatload of LGBTQ and progressive money.


New Competition in NY-15
In an April 5 article, City and State’s Maggie Garred introduced readers to Jonathan Ortiz and Tomas Ramos, two young political unknowns who have already filed with the Federal Election Commission, Ortiz in November 2018 and Ramos on April 1. Ortiz directs the Phipps Neighborhood Finance Empowerment Center, a nonprofit in the Bronx that helps people improve their financial health. Ramos runs the Bronx River Community Center and is also a facilitator for Project Reset: Bronx Community Justice Program, a diversion project assisting low-level offenders.

New York Magazine: Former Trump Campaign Manager Advising AOC Challenger
President Trump’s former campaign Corey Lewandowski is advising Ruth Papazian in her planned 2020 general election challenge to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bx./Queens) reported New York magazine late last week. When asked about the New York magazine report, Papazian acknowledged meeting with Lewandowski through mutual acquaintances at a Queens GOP event. But she said it was too early to be discussing anyone having a formal role in her grassroots campaign.

The Post also reports that a GOP fat cat is prepared to drop seven-figures in support of an AOC challenger. Bronx Republican chairman Mike Rendino wouldn’t divulge the donor’s name but said the individual is “worth over $200 million, plus [has] connections to raise money in Manhattan.”


AOC, congress

US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

The Truth About Sandy/AOC
In a nearly fifteen-minute video posted to The Red Pill Book YouTube channel, a vlogger calling himself, “Mr. Reagan” purports to expose “The Truth About AOC” and the braintrust behind the scenes whose agenda and words the young Bronx lawmaker allegedly parrots. Click on the link here to view the video.


Theory: Backroom Deal to Deny Diaz?
The odds are that if it’s a three or four person congressional primary next June, Rev. Rubén Diaz could win. Some cynics are already waving the caution flag and are fearful of the Bronx Democratic machine pulling a “Manton” (the ex-Queens congressman and county leader who resigned from Congress between the primary and election day so his committee could appoint then-assemblyman Joe Crowley as his replacement on the ballot). One scenario involves Bronx Democrats convincing Rep. José Serrano to resign his office this September so Gov. Andrew Cuomo could call the special election to fill the NY-15 vacancy on election day in November. The only unanswered question in this scenario IS who would County pick to replace Serrano?


Riverdale Lawmakers Accused of Interference
A week ago Monday, the NY Post reported that two Bronx lawmakers — Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz and Councilman Andy Cohen — targeted an ex-assistant principal at a Riverdale elementary school and pressured the de Blasio administration “to do something about the educator,” who had sued Dinowitz for defamation, e-mails obtained by The Post revealed.

“The messages surfaced recently during discovery in the suit, which former PS 24 assistant principal Manny Verdi filed against Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz (D-Bronx). In a Feb. 29, 2016, message, Dinowitz and Bronx Councilman Andrew Cohen tried to get a sit down with one of the mayor’s top aides, just to complain about Verdi.” [NY Post]

In one of the emails obtained by The Post, DOE legislative staffer John Zaccaro, Jr. wrote: “The AP in question is Manny Verdi. Dinowitz and Cohen both feel that he along with the former principal are responsible for part of the schools overcrowding due to allowing out-of-zoned students into the school.” The email was written to then-DOE legislative director Justin Brannan (who is now a city councilman from Brooklyn). In a lawsuit filed in May 2016, Verdi accused Assemblyman Dinowitz of wanting to keep minority students out of PS 24.


Torres Calls For Halt on Voting Machines
The chair of the City Council’s Oversight and Investigations Committee is calling for a halt to the Board of Elections’ plan to use machines supplied by a company with a spotty record for this fall’s early voting. “I’m against rigging the process in favor of a contractor with a dubious track record,” Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx) told The Post.


Battle of the Cohen Aides

A Bronx political blogger who goes by the Twitter handle @GossipBronx recently tweeted about City Councilman Andrew Cohen possibly mulling a run for Bronx Borough President and a potential battle brewing between former aides looking to succeed the term-limited northwest Bronx councilman. Bronx Gossip tweeted “A little birdie told me that one of Cohen’s staffers has an eye on the council seat after he is done. They declined to name names but presumably it would be current Chief of Staff or former Leg[islative] Director Kate Theobald.

That intriguing tweet was followed by a tweet by John Desio, communications director for Bronx Borough President Rubén Diaz, Jr., cheering the news:

Desio then followed up his tweet with a cheekier tweet encouraging a Cohen-staffer “battle royale”:

Political blogger Robert Press contributed to this political round-up.

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