The 33rd Senate District Democratic primary, a closely-watched contest for months now, has now become a two-horse race.
Daniel Padernacht, a lawyer and member of Community Board 8, officially announced on Tuesday, September 7 that he will be backing out of the race and supporting Gustavo Rivera over the other option, the incumbent Pedro Espada.
It is too late to remove his name from the September 14 ballot, so instead Padernacht has asked his supporters to give Rivera the Democratic nomination.
“I have determined that the right thing for me to do is step aside,” Padernacht said.
“We thought we had a great chance,” he continued. “We did not see it as an absolute win… there is a better chance to unseat Pedro Espada if we support Rivera. We need a new mix of personalities in Albany; legislatures that are willing to work together. My decision comes with the hope of reforming Albany.”
Some residents were disappointed, but for the most part the Padernacht decision deminishes the possibility of him and Rivera splitting the anti-Espada vote, which many opponents of Espada felt sure would happen.
Robert Press, a member of the Committee of 100 Democrats, was unsure of what to expect now. “I myself favored Dan Padernacht,” he said. “We [the C100 committee] couldn’t come to a consensus on endorsing a candidate in the 33rd, so there was no offical endorsement made.”
Ricky Martinez, who is running for State Committee in the 78th Assembly District, was equally puzzled as to what we can expect now from the primary, and could not predict a likely winner.
“I liked Dan. To me he was a great candidate,” said Martinez. “Now we have to ask, which is the best of two evils? I don’t think Rivera is ready. He has something he is hiding. Espada, yes, he has crossed over party lines, but he has also brought revenue to the community.”
Martinez continued: “Espada is a good candidate. But the man has pissed off a lot of people.”
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, the newspaper El Diario and Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. are among those who have now officially endorsed Gustavo Rivera.
But the BP’s father, State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. supports the reelection of Pedro Espada.
It has become, according to most, the biggest race in September 14’s Democratic primary, and with the added support of Padernacht, Gustavo Rivera feels he has a real shot.
“One of the great things about having Dan on my team now is that I want to work with him not only to get elected, but also, looking forward, to make the Bronx better,” said Rivera over the phone while knocking on doors late at night Tuesday, September 7. “I love knocking on doors like this. I’ve done it for other candidates, but this is the first time I’ve done it for myself. It’s so refreshing to talk to people in their homes about what’s important to them, and this is something Pedro Espada does not do.”
Rivera said that grassroots effort has made his candidacy stronger. “Over the past few weeks, we have put together a union of community leaders like Dan to make sure we can defeat Espada. I think we stand a pretty good shot, but we are not taking this for granted. We will continue to knock on doors every single night.”