Efrain Gonzalez, a favorite of the Bronx Democratic machine and a state senator since 1989, was expected to defeat Pedro Espada in Tuesday's primary. But he lost - badly.
In a phone interview last night, he talked about his downfall, insisting his ongoing legal problems were not to blame.
"I came up short because of a lack of resources," said a glum but defiant Gonzalez. "It was not about my leadership and it’s not about the indictment."
By resources Gonzalez means money and manpower. "I’m not a rich guy, I’m a poor guy and that’s the way it is," he said. (Espada, incidentally, says Gonzalez - who was bankrolled by the party - outspent him. )
Looking back at his political career, Gonzalez, 60, says he's has no regrets. "I’m fine, I’m happy, I’m at peace," he said. "I’ve nothing to be ashamed of, I’m proud of everything I’ve done."
So what did Gonzalez accomplish during those 19 years in office? It's a good question: he certainly wasn't a prolific lawmaker. In the 2007/08 legislative session, for example, he has sponsored just one lonely bill. To give a comparison, Bronx State Senators Jose M. Serrano and Ruben Diaz have sponsored 24 and 33 respectively. (That few of these bills will see the light of day, because of the Republican majority in the Senate, is another matter.)
Instead, Gonzalez says he focused on helping thousands of Bronx residents - often on a one-to-one basis. "I don’t make press releases of all the things I do, that’s what makes me different [from other politicians]."
Of his future plans Gonzalez said: "You move on, you move forward, you keep working. I want to keep being helpful. You don’t have to be in elected office to continue helping people."
Asked whether he'll return to politics, Gonzalez said "never say never."