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Friday, August 22, 2008

Show of Political Strength at Bronx Courthouse

This morning dozens of Bronx Democratic elected officials stood on the steps of the Bronx County Courthouse in loud support of Civil Court Judge candidate Elizabeth Taylor (pictured, center, above, with Bronx pols (left to right), Ruben Diaz, Jr., Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr. and Aurelia Greene).

Organizers of the rally made it a point to show their group’s diversity and mentioned several times that they were "inclusive." It appeared to be an attempt to draw a stark contrast between themselves and Bronx Democratic Party leader and assemblyman Jose Rivera, who is backing Maria Matos for the position. Rivera has been criticized by some in his own party for supporting only Hispanic and/or Puerto Rican candidates.(Matos is Puerto Rican, Taylor is black.) Assembly member Ruben Diaz Jr., who comes from Puerto Rican stock himself, told us recently that Rivera "believes in Puerto Rican power."

While Taylor is feeling the love from her political backers (which Diaz, Jr. referred to as the "Rainbow Coalition"), Matos hasn’t received the same sort of support from party leaders. For a story on the judgeship race, the Norwood News couldn't get Jose Rivera or anyone at the Bronx Democratic Party headquarters to speak on her behalf despite several attempts.

Those now backing Taylor include Diaz Jr. and fellow assembly members Aurelia Greene, Michael Benjamin, Michael Benedetto, Jeffrey Dinowitz and Carl Heastie. Plus, state senators Rev. Ruben Diaz, Eric Schneiderman and Ruth Hassell-Thompson.

Green revved up the crowd by discussing why she was supporting Taylor. "Ms. Taylor was born and bred in the Bronx and she lives in Highbridge. She’s been a hard worker for the community as well as the entire borough. That’s why I’m voicing my support for her come September 9th." Behind her, the group began chanting and clapping all the while holding up signs saying, "Vote for Taylor."

Dinowitz, who's been seen introducing Taylor to voters in Norwood and appears to be one of the leaders of this little insurgecy, said, "We want the most highly qualified person. We have the majority of the Bronx represented here, with six out of ten Bronx Assembly members as well as State Senators."

Diaz Jr. said the diverse showing at the courthouse was representative of how Taylor has united a variety of factions across the boroughs. "Every corner of the borough is represented here today in voicing their support for Taylor." He made a point of stating that their support had no ulterior motives, though Diaz, Jr. is gearing up for a fight against Rivera's son, Joel (a city council member), for the borough presidency and this could be a show of strength as a prelude to the BP contest.

Diaz, Jr.'s father, the Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr., got the crowd whipped up into a frenzy when he spoke. "She’s a uniter. She brings together all types of people.” He ended his remarks by proclaiming that Taylor is “the chosen one."

Later in the day, Matos was seen at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new baseball field in Highbridge. Her appearance obviously didn't come with the same show of support of fanfare.

The NY Times posted a story on the rally earlier today on the City Room blog. And here's a Daily News story about the growing "rebellion" against Jose Rivera.

-Reporting and photo by Patrick Trotti


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