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30th June
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, June 30, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

One of the first political lessons I learned as a teenage political junkie many years ago, was that here in New York, the reporting in the daily newspapers on the campaigns was — more often than not — inaccurate. New York is a very big place, and reporters, no matter how savvy, can’t know the ins and outs of every single one of the city’s scores of neighborhoods.

That’s why it came as no surprise to see the amount of publicity that a possible endorsement of Mayor Bloomberg by a Bronx Democratic political club got in the press earlier this week. I may not have encyclopedic knowledge of all the political nuances in Red Hook or Tottenville, but I do know a great deal about the political goings on in my own borough and neighborhood.
On Monday night, the mayor appeared in front of a group in Riverdale called the Northwest Bronx Democratic Alliance (NBDA).The next thing you know, there is citywide speculation that this “Democratic Club” will back Mr. Bloomberg, who is (I think) a Republican. This possibility was given great significance by the press. As usual, the reality is somewhat different.

If Mr. Bloomberg has to depend on the NBDA to win Democratic votes in Riverdale, he is in trouble. The 5-yearold group has never run a winning campaign in Riverdale. The best they were able to do was garner 20% of the vote for their city-council candidate four years ago, who was then crushed by the winning campaign of G.Oliver Koppell. The last endorsement they made was three years ago, when they backed Guillermo Linares’s challenge of state Senator Eric Schneiderman. In the Bronx portion of the district, Mr. Schneiderman won 92% of the vote, against the pathetic 8% showing by his NBDA-backed opponent.
The gold standard in determining the viability of a political club is its ability to win party positions, district leaderships,and state committee posts. The NBDA has never even fielded candidates for these party offices.

What the mayor’s campaign may achieve by getting in bed with this fringe group is that they could foreclose a possible Bloomberg endorsement by two local politicos who do have a big following in Riverdale: Congressman Eliot Engel and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz.

Since the Bronx Democratic machine challenged Mr. Engel in 2000, Messrs. Engel and Dinowitz have been estranged from mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer. Should Mr. Ferrer win the Democratic Primary, it would not be out of the question for Mr. Bloomberg to win their endorsement — unless the water is poisoned by the mayor aligning himself with their political enemy, the NBDA.

Beyond this, a possible Bloomberg endorsement by the NBDA also may reveal a low-key effort by Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión Jr. to undermine the Ferrer campaign.

The NBDA has been widely seen as a front for Mr. Carrion, who has little other support in Riverdale. The club’s top leader, Anthony Perez Cassino, has served as campaign treasurer of Mr. Carrion’s campaign committee, a post reserved for only the closest of political intimates.

Mr. Carrión has methodically packed the membership of Community Board 8 in order to insure the election of Mr. Cassino as board chair.

The uproar caused by having the borough president’s campaign treasurer controlling the spigot on land-use issues in the Bronx’s most affluent community forced Mr. Cassino to resign his campaign post.

Mr. Carrión has made no secret of his desire to run for mayor in 2009. He stated this publicly in an interview with the Jewish Week several months ago. This puts him in the same position as City Comptroller William Thompson. To fulfill their ambition, both men depend on a Democratic loss in this year’s election, and a term-limited Mr. Bloomberg serving a second term.

Mr.Thompson can do as he wishes — he has no horse in this race. But Mr. Carrión does: he has endorsed Fernando Ferrer. Is an NBDA endorsement of Mr. Bloomberg, engineered by a Carrión political intimate, Mr. Cassino, a way for the ambitious Bronx Borough President to stick pins in his Ferrer voodoo doll?
In any event, Mr. Bloomberg will win Riverdale, which hasn’t voted Democratic in a mayoral election for 20 years. The question is, how big a victory he will win there? The answer may depend on the alliances the mayor makes along the way.

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The arbitration decision resulting in a new police contract is good news for the mayor, boosting his standing, particularly among Republican primary voters in the outer-borough ethnic neighborhoods. In these communities, many of the Republican households have police officers in their immediate family. Nothing will take the edge off GOP discomfort with the liberal Mr. Bloomberg faster than a $13,000 check for retroactive pay.

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There seems to be little bad news for the mayor lately, as the New York Times poll released yesterday seems to fully confirm the recent positive QPoll results.The Democrats simply are not gaining traction.Things are so bad for Democratic candidates that Rep. Anthony Weiner’s supporters are taking some comfort in the Times numbers that has him pulling away from Council Speaker Gifford Miller in the field of four in the Democratic primary. But this is nothing to write home about.

Mr. Weiner finished third with 10 points, three points ahead of Mr. Miller. That the speaker has continued to be unable to parlay the extensive press coverage he has recently received into better poll numbers does not bode well for his effort.

© 2005 The New York Sun, One, SL, LLC. All rights reserved.

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