Klein, Rivera, Blake roll in Dem primaries

Senator Jeff Klein, flanked by supporters, gave a rousing speech at Maestro’s upon winning his party’s nomination for the 34th district on Tuesday, September 9.
Photo by Edwin Soto

A long-time east Bronx state senator hung on to his nomination, while a former operative for President Obama made his entry into the Bronx political arena on a busy Democratic Primary night Tuesday, September 9.

Incumbent Senator Jeff Klein was declared the winner for the Democratic party nomination Tuesday night in a 34th district race against challenger Oliver Koppell, a former state legislator and Riverdale city councilman.

At press time, unofficial Board of Election results had Klein winning with 66.8% of the vote, compared to Koppell’s %33.2, in a district spanning east, from Throggs Neck and Pelham Bay, south into Hunts Point and Soundview, west to Riverdale and north into part of Yonkers.

Jubilation for Klein

Klein, an east Bronx political lifer, celebrated with his team and supporters during his victory celebration at Maestro’s shortly before 11 p.m. on primary night.

“I think most of all what gave me inspiration and what really grounded me were the residents of the 34th Senate District,” said Klein during his victory speech, speaking of the campaign. “Those people are my friends and neighbors. Those are the people who stood with me my entire career, watched me grow in politics, but most of all taught me right from wrong, what it means to be a Democrat, what it means to be an elected official.”

Meanwhile, fellow incumbent Gustavo Rivera, of the west Bronx’s 33rd district, celebrated with supporters at Escape Restaurant as results showed him besting challenger Fernando Cabrera in the primary.

“I am deeply grateful to the people of the Bronx, who have once again chosen to send me to Albany to deliver real results for our community.” he said in a statement later. “Fundamentally, this race boiled down to a choice for our district — between real progressive values that help Bronx families, and the divisive, counterproductive politics of the past.”

In both races, a win in the Democratic Primary is effectively a win in November’s general election, since there are no valid challengers running with other parties.

New faces in Assembly

A former staffer for Barack Obama leads a pack of primary winners in Democratic primary races across the borough.

Michael Blake celebrated after results showed him besting Marsha Michael, who had been backed by much of the Bronx Democratic political establishment, in the 79th district, which includes much of Morrisania and Tremont.

“The people really wanted this,” he told the Bronx Times Reporter afterward. “The people showed very clearly that our message of bringing change to the Bronx is what they want to see.”

Blake won with 37.4% of the vote, compared to Michael’s 24.9%, according to preliminary results compiled by the Board of Elections.

A win in the assembly primaries is also tantamount to a win in November’s general election.

Meanwhile, long time assemblyman Jose Rivera routed challenger Fernando Tirado in the west Bronx 78th district.

Latoyna Joyner, a lawyer and avid member of Community Board 4, won the 77th district primary for a vacant seat — which includes Highbridge, Concourse and Morrisania — in a landslide.

But one race has yet to be decided as of press time. Incumbent Victor Pichardo and challenger Hector Ramirez were neck in neck in the primary for the Democratic party nomination in the 86th district, which includes parts of University Heights and Fordham.

Preliminary Board of Elections tallies had Pichardo trailing by just 11 votes. The absentees have not been counted yet. The clear-cut victor in this race may not be known for several weeks.

Reach Reporter Ben Kochman at (718) 742–3394. E-mail him at bkoch‌man@c‌ngloc‌al.com. Follow him on Twitter @benkochman.

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