September 13 Primary Heats Up

Making the cut

Half the battle for candidates taking on incumbents is surviving petition challenges from party lawyers to make it on the September 13 Primary ballot.

The battle grounds last week were at the city Board of Elections, and then before a judge.

Not to keep anyone in suspense, a host of challengers actually made it (details to follow next week).

Here’s an update on what looked like potentially fatal flaws Fordham Assemblyman Jose Rivera and east Bronx Assemblyman Mike Benedetto had on their petitions. They survived, and so did their challengers – Ricardo (Ricky) Martinez and Egidio Sementilli.

And two pocket-poor minor challengers made the ballot in the 80th Assembly District race pitting big bux challenger Mark Gjonaj against incumbent Naomi (Snooki) Rivera.

Irene Estrada Rukaj is a repeater, having been knocked off the ballot twice before against Snooki, while Adam Bermudez, a 29-year-old political neophyte, is up to bat for the first time.

Our best guestimate, they drain about two to three percent, or a couple of hundred votes in what’s expected to be a 4,000 or so vote contest.

The Mighty Quinn

City Council Speaker – and mayoral wannabe – Christine Quinn working the Bronx last week, touting her accomplishments. Joined by Riverdale Councilman (a future Quinn Administration commissioner?) Ollie Koppell, she schmoozed the North and South Riverdale Merchants Association and the Kingsbridge Business Improvement District, tawkin’ ‘bout how UNDER HER LEADERSHIP the council made life for small business sooo much better.

This after fellow mayoral wannabe Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio was suing the city over all those fines it was slapping on struggling merchants….

Advocate Ruben

And speaking of citywide races, some savvy folks are saying Bronx Boro Prez Ruben Diaz Jr. just might have some decent odds going for him if he does decide to go for Public Advocate.

For one thing, with Brooklyn state Sen. Daniel Squadron and Councilwoman Letitia James also looking at the post, Ruben certainly has better name recognition at the moment, though he really would need to start hitting the bricks fairly fast in Brooklyn and Queens to spread his name around there.

Having a half mil in campaign cash also helps give him a fast start out the gate.

And needless to say, as the city’s first Latino public advocate, he’d certainly be on the first rung up the ladder to becoming the city’s first Latino mayor.

Gay issues

Luis Sepulveda catching hell among other gay groups after the heavyweight citywide Stonewall Democratic Club endorsed him for the redistricted and newly named 87th Assembly District in Parkchester-Castle Hill.

Luis’ been joined at the hip with vocally anti-gay marriage state Senator Ruben (The Rev) Diaz Sr., and is taking a similar stand, whether he really is or ain’t. Luis, who has an HIV-positive brother, told the Post he supports more funding for HIV and AIDS research.

Challenger Danny Figueroa, former chief of staff for Peter Rivera who stepped down to become state labor comissioner, is pro-gay marriage.

Then again, the large Bangladesh and conservative Latino voting community there doesn’t exactly wave the rainbow flag.

Cowgirl Annabel

Soundview Councilwoman Annabel Palma wants to make sure she rounds up ALL the votes in the Bronx delegation when it comes time to palaver over who will become the next Council Speaker after term-limted mayoral wannabe Christine Quinn leaves. Whether it’s Jimmy Vacca or someone else in the already crowded field from across the city who wants to lasso the job, “I want to be sure that the Bronx delegation has a solid eight votes for whomever we support.”

Cop Corner

•Congrats to longtime east Bronx 45th Precinct Detective John Fennell, with a loooong overdue promotion to prestigious First Grade Detective.

And to downstairs boss at the 4-5, Capt. Russell Green, getting those deputy inspector’s gold oak leafs on his collar, and locals hoping it doesn’t mean losing him to a “busier” house.

Yo, Prof!

Facebook comment by J.C. Polanco, a busy lawyer and Bronx Republican commissioner at the city Board of Elections by day and college professor by night:

“Taking one of my classes at CUNY BMCC approx $600, my coffee and peanuts $3, Watching the faces on students too cool to read the books for the class as they take their mid term….priceless.

White House ring

Bronx political wannabe and former Obama campaign field staffer Haile Rivera went on bended knee in front of the White House briefing room podium – with ring in hand – to pop the question to fellow former field staffer Cossette Morillo.

Diaper doody

Congrats to Soundview Assemblyman Marcos Crespo and wife Virna Lisy. Marcos grinning on his Facebook page waving a sonargram showing it’s a girl. Get LOTS of sleep NOW.

Bronx Birthdays

Aug. 6. Anthony Ribustello, Republican co-deputy at Bronx Board of Elections.

Got some hot gossip? E-mail Kappy at

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