After what many called an inspiring, sensational victory over a formidable opponent, Gustavo Rivera is now making his plans to take office.
Rivera won the Democratic primary on Tuesday night, September 14, beating out Pedro Espada, a political giant that many voters believed had bigger pockets and deeper connections than Rivera could ever hope to overcome.
In the end, Rivera’s victory was actually a landslide.
He won by a margin of 62$ to just over 30% for Espada.
“We knew that it was all about the work,” said Rivera one week later, while out thanking voters. “This always was, from the beginning, about making sure that we did the work. We talked to the voters, discussed what’s important to them, and let them know there was another option.”
Rivera said that though he was considered an underdog months ago, in the week before the election he began to feel confident.
“It became very obvious to us that people knew Espada forgot who he worked for.”
Rivera said that since primary day he has been thanking everybody who helped make the victory possible.
He is also still teaching a class this semester at Pace University downtown. The course, ironically, is on public opinion, voting, and campaign strategy.
“I think I have a little bit of knowledge in that now,” he joked.
Rivera will teach that for the remainder of the semester, though once January comes he will likely be unable to keep teaching.
In terms of his office, in the coming days Rivera will shift focus to two tasks: putting together a cabinet and doing what he can to help maintain a Democratic majority and campaign for those candidates that might benefit from his support.
He has not lost sight of his priorities for office, and said that his goals remain the same. Those include dealing with high unemploymemnt, maintaining funding for education and health care, and sticking up for tenants in affordable housing.
There is one crucial issue he has on his mind — reforming state government.
“In the last few months as I’ve been talking to my neighbors,” he said, “I’ve realized they understand that when government doesn’t work, it impacts their daily lives. We need ethics reform, we need an independent body that can police the legislature, and we need campaign finance reform so that people cannot do what Pedro Espada did.”
Espada, meanwhile, won’t necessarily be disappearing from the limelight.
In a concession speech on election night, Espada said, “I’ve lost political contests before. The difference between this fighter and other people is that they quit. I’m not quitting anything.”