They say you can’t go home again. But that isn’t true when home is the Democratic Party and you're Herman Badillo.
Our Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke reports:
Badillo announced this morning that he's switching parties.
“Today, I am proudly announcing that I am returning to my political roots and am rejoining the Democratic Party, the party that was my political home for most of my life. It was as a Democrat that I was elected as the first United States Congressman of Puerto Rican origin in the history of the nation. It was as a Democrat that I served as the first Borough President of Hispanic origin in the history of New York City. It was as a Democrat that I served as the first Hispanic Deputy Mayor in New York City in the administration of Edward I. Koch. And, it was as a Democrat that I ran for Mayor of New York City three times,” Badillo wrote in an emailed announcement.
Of course, it was as a Republican that Badillo ran against, and lost to -- Mayor Bloomberg in the 2001 GOP primary.
But if you are Badillo, probably better not to mention that. It was as a right-leaning Democrat that he served as educational advisor to Mayor Giuliani and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of CUNY.
Badillo cited changing the educational system and helping close the achievement gap as area that he wants to impact by switching parties.
“As many know, a burning passion of mine and something I have been trying to accomplish for many years, in different capacities, has been to improve the educational system in New York City. More particularly to seek ways to close the educational gap between Hispanics and Blacks and other ethnic groups,” Badillo wrote. “This is the particular area that I want to address in the future and I believe that my involvement can best be accomplished by returning to the Democratic Party.”
The last time that Badillo held an elected office was in 1977, when he resigned from Congress in order to become a deputy mayor to Ed Koch. In 2006, Badillo joined the conservative Manhattan Institute as a senior fellow writing about immigration issues.
When Puerto Rican political pioneer Badillo last switched parties – from Democrat to Republican – in 1998, it was seen as a turning point for the Latino vote. The vote still hasn’t turned.
In his 1998 announcement, Badillo, an avid jogger, said that he wanted to "conduct a marathon on behalf of the Republican Party, not just here, but all over the country.” This time, the 82-year-old is presumably not attempting to run a countrywide marathon.