And they’re outta the gate

Now we’ve got a real horse race.

They’re off and running for the west Bronx seat of disgraced ex-Assemblyman Nelson (Speak up, please) Castro, with a serious field of candidates.

The biggest potential loser could be Democratic Party Boss Carl Heastie if he backs the wrong horse for a second time.

And Castro could wind up being the kingmaker in the race.

The Democratic County Committee announced June 3, the day before petitioning began, that it’s putting its money on Victor Pichardo, a staffer for local state Senator Gustavo Rivera.

Besides Boro Prez Ruben Diaz Jr., he has the backing of local Councilman Fernando Cabrera. Gustavo’s had chilly relations with Cabrera ever since the councilman reportedly – and quietly – backed Manny Tavarez for Gustavo’s seat.

As for Heastie, after toppling County leader Jose Rivera in the Rainbow Revolution, Carl tried to unseat Rivera-backed Castro in 2010 by supporting then-District Leader Hector Ramirez. Nelson clobbered Hector.

This time, Hector is in it to win it, with a lot of community support, judging by the packed fundraiser he recently held at the Monte Carlo Room.

Hector blew his chances for Carl’s backing this time, anyway, by asking Gov. Cuomo NOT to call a special election to fill the seat, thus depriving Carl of anointing a successor.

And of course, there’s longtime female district leader Yudelka Tapia, who brings her own strong organization into the race. Her biggest problem is that $108,000 in unaccounted for funds and penalities she owes the city Campaign Finance Board. But as we previously quoted one savvy political source, “$10,000 and two mailings” could get a candidate over the top in the 86th, which covers University Heights, Tremont and Fordham Heights.

Add Haile Rivera to the candidate mix – he just announced – and subtract Manny Tavarez, who’d been rumored to be weighing a run.

And it now looks like Nelson, who was actually weighing stepping into the race for his old seat, won’t be.

Something to do with raising the bucks, we’re told.

But interestingly enough, he’s reportedly still a popular guy with the folks in the district, despite secretly bugging pols and others for four years to make nice with federal prosecutors holding a perjury rap over his head.

“If Nelson backs any of these candidates,” said male district leader Steve Santana, “he could be a kingmaker.”


Tuesday, June 4th marked the first day of petition gathering for open seats, with candidates in the hotter contests (see above, and in E. Tremont’s 15th Council District to fill term-limited Council Speakers Joel Rivera’s seat) expecting to see a lotta challenges to their petition signatures.

The kings of NYC voter info – no, not the city Board of Elections, but Jerry Skurnik and Stu Osnow over at Prime New York – are touting the latest Justice Department approved lines in their voter files – including verifying legit, challenge-proof registered voters.


We were all set to wave buh-bye to former state Senator Pedro Espada, due for sentencing in Brooklyn Federal Court June 14, but then he goes and claims he has new evidence acquitting him of looting his old Soundview Healthcare chain – despite his guilty plea. Stay tuned.


When Ari Hoffnung put out a teaser email about a “Major Announcement” involving the City Council race in the 11th C.D. covering Riverdale, Kingsbridge, we figured he was throwing his hat in the ring for term-limited Councilman Ollie Koppell’s seat.

No such spoiler luck. He was just the hundred thousandth person/union/group to endorse Andrew Cohen against Cliff Stanton and Cheryl Keeling.


•Welcome to new Bronx Chief of Detectives Walter Salowsky, late of Manhattan Detectives, replacing Deputy Chief Robert Boyce.

• No-Star Chief John Wohlberg, late of Patrol Borough Bronx, reporting in his latest email-o-gram that the cop’s friend, the Rev. Chaplain Bill Kalaidjian, celebrating 60th anniversary of his ordination.


The Bronx will be in the house – in Albany, that is – on Tuesday, June 18 for Bronx Day in Albany.

Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, Senator Jeff Klein, and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. are sponsoring the all-day event, starting with a luncheon, then a reception and cocktails at Empire State Plaza.

For more info, call Lilyanna Pekic at 718-655-5000 or email [email protected].


The Bronx Democratic County Committee is digging into union pockets to help fill its coffers.

Three of the six honorees at its annual fundraising dinner July 17 at Marina del Rey are union biggies, along with a Wall Street fatcat, all good for putting the arm on to buy a couple of tables and some full-page journal ads. Party reportedly clears about $400-500Gs.

And as we always say, it’s the night where folks gather to mend fences and make contracts….


To family, friends and fans of musician, radio host and videographer IbrahimGonzalez.


June 10 – former Gov. Eliot Spitzer

June 12 – Actress Sonia Manzano, best known as Maria of Sesame Street.

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