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Monday, August 25, 2008

Reporting from Denver - Bronx Democrats Attend Opening Reception

On Sunday evening, I attended the New York Democratic Party reception at the Sheraton Denver Hotel, in downtown Denver. (I'm here covering the convention with a group of reporters from other New York City ethnic and community newspapers.)

The reception was held in honor of Sheldon Silver, the New York Assembly Speaker. "Are you ready to crush the politics of privilege?" Silver asked the crowd of delegates "Yes!" came the reply. Then he introduced David Paterson (pictured below), saying the governor has become, in five short months, an "inspiration to all Democrats across the state of New York and beyond."

Paterson, the star attraction, talked about the recent budget cuts in New York. And he talked briefly about Obama, saying the nominee was the right man to fix the nation's many problems. Then Paterson - with his short speech over - returned to schmoozing and joking with throngs of grinning delegates. (New York, by the way, has 281 delegates, second only to California. Most, but not all, are former or current politicians. By my count, 20 are from the Bronx, most of whom are Clinton delegates. More here on the the New York State Democratic Committee Web site.)

At the event, several Bronx delegates were in attendance, including Congressman Jose Serrano. He says he's been coming to these conventions since 1968. "They're a networking thing," he said. "And a big celebrating, a celebration of democracy."

Serrano, along with three other Hispanic congressman, spoke at the Pepsi Center today, saying the Hispanic community was proud to support Obama. I couldn't be there, but last night he told me (with a smile) that the Obama's people were vetting his speech, and he wasn't sure if he'd be allowed on. They were being careful, Serrano said, because he - Serrano - leans "to the left" and has ties with Hugo Chavez, the firebrand Venezuelan president.

Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion and Assemblyman Michael Benjamin were also at the reception, as was Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz. "It's an opportunity to meet people from all over the state and all over the country," said Dinowitz, who was there with his son and daughter. "People are in a good mood because they feel they have a good chance of winning this year. Hopefully this week will launch a successful election campaign."

Dinowitz, like Carrion, is a pledged Clinton delegate, meaning his vote will go to Clinton even though she's out of the race. (Serrano and Congressman Eliot Engel, on the other hand, are unpledged delegates - or superdelegates - meaning their votes weren't determind by New York's primary back in February. Benjamin is a pledged Obama delegate. In the coming days, I'll try and explain this system in more detail.)

I also caught up with Assemblywoman Aurelia Greene, another staunch Clintonite. She said she had supported Hillary because she's a "woman, from New York, and a friend." But with the race now decided, Greene (pictured top with Dinowitz) says she has no problems supporting Obama "wholeheartedly."

I didn't see Jose Rivera, or son Joel or daughter Naomi, who was taken to the hospital early Monday with kidney and gall bladder stones. Jose, the Bronx party chairman, is is currently locked in battle with the so-called "Rainbow Rebellion" - which includes Benjamin, Greene, and Dinowitz.


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