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Challenger Gjonaj rocks boytoy scandal Snooki’s world

Bronx Times

Well, with those boytoy scandals and her other problems contributing, Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera REALLY did feel the earth move last week.

That’s when she went down to defeat 52-41 percent at the hands of challenger Mark Gjonaj in her 80th Assembly District in Thursday’s Democratic Primary.

Next for Snooki. She’ll no doubt now be focusing on those city, state and federal investigations into using taxpayers’ bux to enjoy those boyfriends through a nonprofit she funded, then had on staff while the last one worked full-time as a Brooklyn teacher.

She ran a pocket-poor campaign, so she may have to scrape a bit to pay that law firm she’s already given a $10G retainer.

“You can’t beat four Post front pages and not enough money,” as one longtime political operative put it.

Councilman Jose Rivera? It’s been a long time coming, but it could also mark the final demise (possible famous last words, as you read on) of the once-powerful Rivera dynasty.

Rumors have been floating that seventy-five year old Assemblyman Papi Jose, whose all-Puerto-Rican-all-the-time nepotism cost him the party leadership in the Rainbow Rebellion, has been weighing stepping down to run for City Council, whose fatter salaries would qualify for a heftier retirement pension after four years.

Pundits were quickly calling that plan a dead issue.

But at least one insider in Papi’s camp said it just might be a matter of seeing where those new City Council district lines wind up.

“Jose did nothing in the assembly primary and he still won with 86% of the vote,” said the source, who said Jose’s camp is reportedly waiting to see where the final council lines wind up in January.

“If the lines change dramatically, maybe there’s no room for Jose - or not.”

Heir apparent It’s questionable whether term-limited Council Majority Leader son Joel even wants to fill Papi’s Albany seat, preferring to focus instead on his east Bronx real estate business. More on the scramble for Joel’s East Tremont seat in another column.

AND THE WINNER IS...

•New voice. The growing local Albanian-American community, like so many other ethnic groups in the city, now has an elected official to speak for it.

“Welcome to New York, where any ethnicity can succeed when their opponent faces jail over criminal stupidity,” said Doug Muzzio, urban politics professor at Baruch College. “The voters will vote for dead people, they’ll vote for criminals in jail or out, but there’s a limit.”

Muzzio added that “It does say something in an overwhelmingly Latino district that an Albanian-American can win. He had a good get-out-the-vote campaign and mailings. You gotta credit his campaign manager. Kudos to Scott Levenson.”

On the job. The district may now finally have an assemblymember who actually DOES work for it, both with constituent services - something Gjonaj is already well know for doing - he’s informally known as The Godfather - and in Albany, actually showing up.

The down side. That would be Gjonaj’s realty and building management businesses, which some fear could effect his votes on rent stabilization issues. It was certainly an issue raised in the campaign. But then again, we were advised to take a look at some of Snooki’s contributors.

New friends. We hear it was sort of a tie on who called first, but Mark and Party Boss Carl Heastie were quickly holding a “It’s over, now let’s work together” conversation.

Carl still comes out looking bad outside the Bronx for pushing so hard for Snooki, even if she was the incumbent. It only tarnished the party’s reputation, which Carl has almost managed to polish after its long history of corrupt and second/third-rate electeds.

Check your shoes, Ruben. Boro Prez Ruben Diaz Jr. walks away with mud on his shoes for joining Snooki at the hip and working so hard to get her reelected, even going around door-knockin’ with her. That won’t look good if and when he runs for good government Public Advocate.

Ditto for Jimmy. Same for Councilman Jimmy Vacca endorsing her, sacrificing his long friendship with Mark to march to party orders, in need of its support down the road for either council speaker or borough president.

Drain gain. Creds to Adam Bermudez and Irene Estrada-Rukaj, whose 7 percent vote drain helped Gjonaj in the Latino portion of the newly carved out district where Snooki was supposed to get those votes. Definitely ANTI-Snooki.

LUIS AT LAST

He certainly waited a lot of years for it, but longtime assembly wannabe Luis Sepulveda finally reached his goal with a lotta, lotta hard work, backing from Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. and the local Bangladesh community of Parkchester to edge out - actually, cream - Danny Figueroa for the new 87th A.D. seat in Parkchester/Castle Hill vacated by new state labor commissioner Peter Rivera.

STROKE OF FORTUNE

Benny Catala won his district leader’s seat back in the 77th A.D. in Highbridge. He lost it in the last race after suffering a stroke and unable to get out and work the voters. He pulled 60 percent of the vote this time against incumbent Mark Escoffey-Bey.

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