As Gustavo Rivera walked over to greet a couple of campaign volunteers -- one of them an exchange student from Dusseldorf, Germany -- a couple of heavy drops from above fell onto his head and glasses.
He took off his glasses, checked them. Good. Just water. "I can see the headline now," Rivera joked. "Gustavo Rivera: Poop Head."
Rivera, wearing a bright multi-colored tie given to him by a supporter, and his staff were in good spirits in front of the Amalgamated Houses this morning, a long day of campaigning ahead of them. "I just go where they tell me to go," said Rivera, a long-time political aide and operative who is stepping out as a candidate for the first time. He's taking on the incumbent and controversy lightning rod, Pedro Espada, Jr. in the 33rd Senate District race.
Joining Rivera to do some last-minute campaigning were Dan Padernacht, a former candidate in the race whose base would have come from Amalgamated and elsewhere in Kingsbridge Heights; Councilman Oliver Koppell, wearing an American flag-themed tie on what he called "my holy day" (election day); and Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz, who brought a campaign box (see photo) -- his secret campaign weapon developed over the course of several election cycles -- and a box of Mallomars for his mother.
A couple of residents walking by said they wished Padernacht would have stayed in the race, but most said they were going to vote for Rivera, who earlier in the day was campaigning at PS 86 in Kingsbridge with Comptroller John Liu.
"I think we feel confident," Rivera said.
Several yards away stood two Espada volunteers: Harry Kresky (pictured, left) of Manhattan and Kirsten Fulda (pictured, right) of New Jersey, both members of the Independence Party who said they admired Espada for his, well, independence.
"He doesn't do what the parties tell him to do," said Kresky, a lawyer who, interestingly, once represented Dr. Lenora Fulani, a radical former presidential candidate, who endorsed Espada last week.
Both Kresky and Fulda said they were impressed with Espada's record of creating a string of health clinics in the south Bronx.