Four more Bronx Democrats join battle to topple chairman Jose Rivera
Thursday, August 21st 2008, 6:55 PM
While five of the borough's 11 Assembly members are seeking to topple Rivera, they will be joined Friday by three Bronx state senators and a sixth Assembly member to endorse a challenger to the party's candidate for Civil Court.
But the endorsement, as some have indicated, also is being seen as a move to join the rebel effort to unseat Rivera at the party convention after the Sept. 9 primary.
If they fail, a Rivera supporter said, there could be "blood on the floor" in retribution. Three of the rebels already face party-backed primary challenges.
Known as the Rainbow Rebels for their ethnic diversity, they charge that under Rivera, the party has favored Puerto Ricans to the exclusion of blacks and whites.
They also charge him with nepotism, pointing to his son Joel in the City Council and daughter Naomi in the state Assemblyman as well as another son and in-laws on city and state payrolls.
Joining them today at a press conference at the Bronx County Building to endorse Elizabeth Taylor for the Civil Court will be state Sens. Ruben Diaz Sr., Eric Schneiderman and Ruth Hassell-Thompson, as well as Assemblyman Michael Benedetto.
The party's Civil Court candidate is Maria Matos, who is Puerto Rican.
Powell is seen as a vote drainer from Taylor, also a judge's law clerk, because both women are African-American. The party candidate holds the advantage in a primary, which usually has a low voter turnout.
While some members of the Rainbow Rebel faction tried to downplay the added support for Taylor as strictly limited to the judge's race, others saw it as swaying party members to vote Rivera out of office.
"I think a number of elected Bronx officials have now decided that the incumbent leadership of the party is faulty," said one rebel camp strategist. "It seems they are now getting down off the fence."