Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. threw a political bombshell into the 2013 citywide – and borough – elections on Tuesday, announcing he will not run for public advocate, going instead for a second – and potentially third – full term.
“The future of New York City is no inconsequential topic,” Diaz said in a statement, citing “the significant issues that face our five boroughs – from the economy and job creation, to crime and policing, to education and our social services.”
But he pointed to the “many issues that still face our borough, and many amazing projects that are in the works” – including job creation, education, business development and transportation.
“We have seen tremendous success in the Bronx in recent years. But there is still more work to be done. I wish to see these projects and others to completion, and I will work with our elected officials, government agencies, business and non-profit communities, as well as the residents of the Bronx as a whole, to make that happen.”
Politically, his decision places him in a good position for a run for higher office – including mayor – down the road, since the 39-year-old Diaz has a potential two four-year terms ahead of him, while the next mayor would be term limited after two terms ending Dec. 31, 2021.
“It’s a perfect cycle. He’s at the end of his and the next mayor’s terms,” said heavyweight citywide Democratic political consultant George Arzt.
“Its clear he can now build up his reputation, his name recognition and his campaign coffers,” he added. “So far, he’s been below the radar, and he needs to build his citywide recognition.”
The announcement, while trimming the field of challengers in the citywide race, also upsets the plans of a few potential candidates for the borough president’s job.
Chief among them is City Councilman Jimmy Vacca, who was prepared to mount what political experts saw as a difficult, but not insurmountable race in the heavily Hispanic county, depending on the field of potential challengers.
Other possible names floated for the borough post include term-limited council Majority Leader Joel Rivera, first-term west Bronx Councilmember Fernando Cabrera, and a lesser field of borough assemblymembers – Nelson Castro, Marcos Crespo and Luis Sepulveda.
With term-limited Council Speaker Christine Quinn leaving to jump into the mayor’s race, it’s now possible that Vacca and Cabrera could shift their sights on her job, with some major politicking needed among the other borough council delegations.
Reacting to Diaz’ announcement, Vacca said he was “honored that so many people thought that I could do a good job as borough president if Ruben didn’t run again. I definitely would have considered running for borough president, but it was always my intent to run for reelection to the City Council, and that’s what I am going to do.”
If he had wound up running for the borough post, Vacca would have come into the race with a $250,000 campaign warchest. Depending on the strength of any potential challenger, he said would decide whether he went for 6-1 matching Campaign Finance Board funds.
Vacca had high praise for Diaz in his current job.
“I think that Ruben has been able to bring together all the electeds in the borough, and having that kind of communication has been helpful to us,” said Vacca. “He’s done a good job, he’s been visible and he’s also been someone that we consult in building up the place we call home.”