It was a who's who of Bronx elected officials - along with a smattering of Manhattan pols - who showed up to give their support to Assemblyman Ruben Diaz Junior as he announces his official candidacy for the Bronx borough president's race. Among the prominent faces were Congressmen Jose Serrano and Eliot Engel, former Bronx Borough president Freddy Ferrer and City Comptroller Bill Thompson.
Diaz portrayed himself as a unifier who wants bring together the borough's party that has been strife with factional infighting. Diaz has emerged as a top contender for the seat after a main rival, City Councilman Joel Rivera, said he would not enter into the race. That prevented a battle between two of the most visible Bronx families - the Riveras and the Diazes.
Attending the announcement was Kenny Agosto, an 80th Assembly District leader with the Liberty Democratic Association, says he was once a Rivera supporter but was impressed by Diazes' agenda to build coalitions. Here's what he had to say:
Rivera's father, Assemblyman Jose Rivera, is currently waiting on a appeal to see whether he will win his seat back at the Bronx Democratic County chairman. The elder Rivera lost the seat last fall after a group of his Bronx peers - including Diaz and his father State Senator Ruben Diaz Senior - formed the Rainbow Rebels and ousted him in a raucous election that was contested in court. The winner of that struggle was Assemblyman Carl Heastie who is the current chairman and backing Diaz for the borough president's race.
So far, Diaz is the only candidate to qualify for the ballot in the April 21 special election