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Jeff Klein pulls out sledge hammer to scare off Ollie Koppell challenge

Bronx Times
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SURPRISE MOVE

Some politicians use a switchblade to deal with challengers or enemies, i.e. Gov. Cuomo. Senate Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeff Klein apparently uses a sledge hammer.

The Senate co-leader pulled out all the stops Tuesday, April 22 to launch (surprise, surprise) his reelection campaign at a Morris Park neighbor’s back yard, complete with tent to seat a host of Bronx electeds, supporters, and for color, a dozen Red Hat ladies.

It almost looked like Jeff’s bar mitzvah, with current and former Boro Presidents Ruben Diaz Jr. and Freddie Ferrer and others lauding Jeff, while Dem Party Boss Carl Heastie sent word of party support.

The missing elephant in the room: the Riverdale electeds and political club crowd, apparently “keeping their powder dry,” as one political insider put it, while Riverdale homie Ollie Koppell is still doing his Hamlet “to challenge or not to challenge.”

Ollie later told us he’s been meeting with both regular Democratic Conference leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Senator Mike Giannis, and expects – after two postponements – to announce his decision some time late next week.

IDC MOVES

Former TV news reporter and political consultant Jennifer Rainville is moving in as new communications director for Klein’s IDC, replacing the amiable, media-savvy Eric Soufer, who’s moving over to Risa Heller Communications.

SMACKDOWN

We guess the fight is on for north Bronx/Mount Vernon state Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, who last week in this column said she is running for mayor of Mount Vernon after talking with current Mayor Ernie Davis.

Davis, however, has laced into her, saying that any conversation about whether or not he planned to run for another term “never happened.”

Davis then proceeded to sound like he’s ready to run – over her with a municipal steam roller – in the upcoming 2015 race should she challenge him.

“We are in the throes of a lot of things happening in the city ... with $14 billion in construction in the works,” he noted, “And I fear she just doesn’t have the expertise to deal with it.”

Davis, who recaptured his seat in 2011, after being defeated by Clinton Young, noted that “The city is just now digging itself out.”

“If you can bring something that is different or better, I can understand it,” he said of Thompson. “I just don’t see that happening.”

Ruth responded with a simple, ”I am running for mayor.”

CARPET BAGGING?

Looks as if the Bronx Democratic Machine is going full tilt to knock former President Obama aide Michael Blake outta the running to fill Morrisania’s 79th Assembly District seat, left vacant by Eric Stevenson after his bribery conviction.

Blake brings heavy credentials to the primary campaign, having served as an aide to President Obama and Director of African American and Minority Business Outreach in the White House, as well as working on his 2008 campaign.

The party, which is backing attorney Marsha Michaels, has let it be known that Blake may have residency issues, having co-signed a lease and claiming residency in his mother’s apartment in a senior citizens apartment building.

And while New York State requires a straight five-year-residency to run for a state office, the party will argue Blake paid taxes in Washington during that time.

Blake’s campaign folks say they’re not worried about any legal challenges over his residency.

CHIPPEWA DINNER

The venerable east Bronx Chippewa Democratic Club is gearing up for its 116th - yes, we said 116th - annual dinner dance on Thursday, May 8 at the Villa Barone Manor. Among the honorees, Boro Prez Ruben Diaz, Morris Park community leader Tony Signorile, and Community Board 10 district manager Ken Kearns. For info, call 718 829-2455.

COP CORNER

More musical precinct shifts. Congrats to both Deputy Inspector Lorenzo “Andy” Johnson, transferred from Morris Park’s 49th Precinct to take over the busy 40th Precinct in Mott Haven, and welcome aboard to Capt. Timothy McCormack, swung in from running the Bronx Borough Task Force. McCormack’s brother, Deputy Inspector Chris McCormack, was recently transferred from running the 4-0 over to the 4-6 in Morris Heights.

BRONX BIRTHDAYS

April 22 - Prisca Salazar-Rodriguez, deputy chief of staff for Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

April 29 - Jazz and Latin flutist Dave Valentin.

April 30 - Former borough president Freddie Ferrer.

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