Bronx Democrats dump AOC-aligned Sen. Gustavo Rivera on far-left positions
The Bronx Democratic Party has decided to part ways with an incumbent veteran amid a contentious power struggle between its left and far left flanks.
In an unusual move, Bronx Dems management snubbed State Sen. Gustavo Rivera and instead endorsed his rival, attorney Miguelina Camilo, in the redistributed 33rd District.
Even more surprising is that the other state lawmakers who lead the Bronx Democratic Party — State Sen. Jamaal Bailey, who serves as the party’s chairman, and Congresswoman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who serves as the party’s secretary — support the decision. to get rid of their colleague.
“Gustavo aligned himself with the far left of the party. Defunding the police is not going to do well in the 33rd District,” said Dinowitz, whose Assembly District overlaps with the Senate District, including Riverdale.
Rivera joined the left-leaning Working Families Party and Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in backing insurgent Jessica Woolford against Dinowitz in the June 28 Assembly primary. Dinowitz defeated Woolford.
Bronx Assemblyman Michael Benedetto also easily beat his main rival Jonathan Soto, who was endorsed by the PAM and Ocasio-Cortez. Benedetto and Dinowitz were among the incumbents who fended off leftist insurgents on a good day for the establishment and a bad day for the political left.
About a third of the Rivera District is new under a court-ordered redistricting, encompassing the northwest Bronx neighborhoods of Riverdale and Norwood. The Senate primary will take place on August 23.
Dinowitz noted that Rivera now resides in the 31st district but insisted on running again in the 33rd. Camilo, following a redistricting, decided to run in the 33rd instead of the 34th arrondissement, a seat opened up after State Senator Alessandra Biaggi opted to run for Congress.
But Rivera, first elected in 2010 after defeating convicted con man Pedro Espada, enjoys the support of the Working Families Party and a host of powerful unions. He has been associated with left-wing causes such as defunding the police and establishing a government-run public health insurance system.
Rivera, the chairman of the Senate health committee, has also pushed controversial policies, such as giving full benefits to illegal immigrants and pushing for legislation to open “safe injection sites” to give drug addicts clean needles for taking drugs.
The state Senate leadership — Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins (D-Yonkers) and Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) — is also supporting Rivera’s re-election.
“I always support my serving members and want them all back in the Senate. Senator Rivera has always been a valued member of the Senate and I look forward to continuing to serve with him,” said Stewart-Cousins.
Rivera’s response to the Bronx snub? Bring it on!
“Senator Gustavo Rivera has represented Bronx workers for more than a decade. He is a Labor candidate and an advocate for his community,” a campaign spokesperson said in a statement.
“The senator has already garnered the support and endorsements of 1199 SEIU, CWA, NYSUT and PSC l. He will continue to fight and deliver for his community. He represents over 70% of this district and is looking forward to the spirited primary election,” Rivera’s camp said.
Camilo previously headed the Bronx Women’s Bar Association and served as a commissioner on the city’s Board of Elections, an appointment that goes to people with close ties to party leadership.
“Immensely proud to have the endorsement of @bronxdems, an organization that has seen me grow as a young lawyer and a dedicated member of our Bronx community,” Camilo tweeted tuesday.
Bailey, the Bronx Party leader, said Wednesday night that party officials were seeking to avoid a primary by urging Rivera to run in the 34th or 32nd District instead. Rivera refused.
“We weren’t looking at primary Gustavo. We tried to avoid a primary. We couldn’t figure it out,” Bailey said.
“We believe in Miguelina,” he added.