Councilman Cabrera makes it official: He’s challenging Senator Rivera

UPDATE: Senator Jeff Klein trounced former City Councilman (among other elected offices) Oliver Koppell Thursday night for the endorsement of Riverdale’s heavyweight Ben Franklin Reform Democrat club. The vote went 96-38, with 11 members voting for no endorsement at the end of a raucous, mud-slinging meeting.

(See earlier print item ‘JEFF KLEIN’ below. Check next week’s column for full update)

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Councilman Fernando Cabrera has made it official.

He told us he’s going after state Senator Gustavo Rivera’s northwest Bronx seat.

Part of his campaign, he said, will be to tout the millions he has brought into his Kingsbridge district for programs, while Rivera has produced little, if any funding from Albany.

Rivera responded to the announcement by initially taking the high road, saying “I look forward to having a conversation about my record and asking my neighbors for their support once again.”

One potential fallout victim in this hot race could be former Rivera staffer and newbie Assemblyman Victor Pichardo in the 86th A.D. in Morris Heights, who won in a special election to replace disgraced former Assemblyman Nelson Castro.

Victor’s again being challenged for a full term by former District Leader Hector Ramirez, who lost to him by thismuch in what many saw as an election day vote riddled with dirty tricks.

“There’s a lot of grumbling over Gustavo, which could drag Victor down, being seen as his puppet,” said one local insider, “whether that view’s fair or not.”

JEFF KLEIN

Should he win, Cabrera, according to one published report, has weighed joining Senator Jeff Klein’s breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, but Klein’s camp isn’t saying yes or no yet to helping him. Odds are Jeff might, since there’s no love lost between Jeff and Gustavo.

Gustavo’s been the regular Democatic Conference’s pit bull, attacking Klein for using his five-member IDC to grab majority control of the Senate away from them by grabbing co-leadership with Senate Republicans.

Jeff has his own challenge on his hands from Riverdale’s Oliver Koppell.

The former Attorney General/Assemblyman/school board chairman/and term-limited City Councilman has charged Jeff with treason by abandoning the regular Senate Democrats to co-lead with (gasp!) Republicans.

Most political insiders see Ollie’s challenge as pretty much an uphill, maybe even cliff-climbing, one against the well-heeled, popular Klein. Even Riverdales’ top electeds, Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz and Councilman Andrew Cohen, who succeeded Koppell, have endorsed Jeff.

The local Ben Franklin Reform Dems club was set to meet Thursday night – after print deadline, with the best guess that its endorsement will go to Jeff.

ALL POLITICS

IS LOCAL

Look for some new local district leaders coming out of the September primary, though most have been pre-ordained by political clubs

District leaders – one male, one female in each assembly district, are pretty much the top sergeants, dealing with getting the troops out come time for gathering nominating petitions and getting the vote out on election day, as well as voting on party leadership.

Jeff Lynch, east Bronx Councilman Jimmy Vacca’s longtime chief of staff and political strategist, will be stepping down as male district leader in the 82nd Assembly District. Mayor de Blasio just rewarded Jeff for shepherding the Bronx for him in the general election by making him Assistant Commissioner for Intergovernmental and Community Affairs at the city Department of Transportation, pretty much the only reward the Bronx Democratic Machine has even remotely gotten outta Mayor Bill.

Lynch is being replaced by Bronx Times Reporter founder and former publisher John Collazzi .

Longtime female district leader Fran Mahony’s also stepping down, with her reported replacement Jeff Lynch’s wife, Marjorie Velázquez Lynch.

Meanwhile, in the 80th A.D. in Morris Park, current DL and Liberty Dem Club co-founder Kenny Agosto is out of the running after being redistricted. With Female District leader Miriam Schwartz stepping down, the club is backing club secretary Andrea Siegel in the primary. No word yet on Kenny’s replacement.

Bruce Feld, longtime Democratic district leader in Riverdale’s 81st A.D., is stepping down to smell the roses. The Ben Franklin Reformed Dems club chose Eric Dinowitz, Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz’ son to replace Bruce.

BRONX BIRTHDAYS

May 25 – Actress Connie Selleca (Hotel, Capt America II)

May 27 – Author Herman Wouk

May 30 – Jeffrey Laufer, special assistant to Borough President Ruben Diaz

Reach Editor Bob Kappstatter at (718) 742–3395. E-mail him at bkappstatter@cnglocal.com.

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