In a surprise upset, Gustavo Rivera, a college professor and Democratic activist defeated State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada in the Bronx.
Espada, who is the subject of a litany of corruption investigations - Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has two lawsuits against him - and who was one of the architects of the Albany coup in 2009 conceded the election. The pugnacious Espada blanketed his district in mailers and posters on election day, urging voters to "defend what's ours."
Voters instead voted for Rivera, who came to the race with substantial union backing and the support of party activists across the city. He did not however, have strong name recognition in the district. Many voters said they were voting simply against Espada.
Rivera's late election message stressed dignity for the district. His signs on election day said "Rivera, a state senator you can be proud of."
Asked how he managed a victory against such a powerful opponent, an ebullient Rivera said it was simple.
"We did it the classic way, we talked to voters everything single day about what is important to them and we knocked on doors," he said. "I think the numbers were very good for us."