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Political Races 2004

By Jose B. Rivera

Never let it be said that the politics and politicians of El Barrio are boring.  This year’s races promise to be more exciting and heated than ever before.  Our factionist political groups are about give new meaning to the word political infighting. On the Congressional side of things we may have Congressman Rangel being challenged by Adam Powell.  Though let me emphasize that this race is very unlikely as Assemblyman Powell will probably not choose this time to run for congress.

Still, if Powell did decide to run, this would be race is interesting on a few levels.  The most glaring being that of Powell taking back a seat which his father occupied, but which was won by the Congressman Rangel.  A son’s revenge, if Adam Powell should pull it off. Cong Rangel, like Senator Mendez is very well liked and therefore very hard to beat.

Then there is the African-American vs.Puerto Rican thing.  Cong. Rangel being perceived as the African-American and Adam Powell being perceived as the Puerto Rican.  Funny thing is that both are African-American and Puerto Rican. But on the streets of El Barrio, Rangel is seen as African-American and Adam as the Puerto Rican. 

Now East Harlem Hispanic activist have been feeling pretty stomped on by Harlem Politicos, especially by County leader Assemblyman Denny Farrell.  Three Hispanic Democratic District Leaders Felix Rosado, Harry Rodriguez and Carmen Quinones have gone to court over this lack of respect from their county leader.  In short, some of the Hispanic leadership of East Harlem would like to see one of their own sitting on the Congressional seat. Or at least someone more in keeping Puerto Rican goals and aspirations. But not all feel this way.  Remember I am just reported what is being felt out there. I am just the messenger.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for this race, as was stated at the beginning of this article, Adam Powell will not likely challenge Congressman Rangel this time around.

The next major race is the State Senate.  State Sentor Olga Mendez, switched political parties and is now a Republican.  And most Democratic analyst believe that has sealed her fate and that she will loose any reelection attempt.  But they forget that the Senator is well loved especially by those who actually vote in this community, the seniors.  So expect her to pull a mighty win regardless of her party affiliation. 

Who will be her challengers?  Democratic Distict Leader John Ruiz has announced his candidacy. And many throw Milissa Mark Viverito as a possibility (though she has not given any indication of this, so forget it).

Anyone who does run against the senator is forgetting some very important facts.  One is that the senator is a very popular person.  Two, she is especially liked by those who vote most often in our community, mainly the seniors. And third party affiliation will not matter. Just because the Senator is now a Republican is no reason to believe she is vulnerable. She is not vulnerable due to her extremely high popularity.  She is also very influential in bringing money and programs into the community.  This at a time when our Mayor and Govenor are both Republicans.  Neat trick, wouldn’t you say. Prediction, Olga Mendez will be reelected no matter who runs against her.

On to the Assembly race.  Don’t look for Adam to run for Congress this time around.  He will run for re-election to the Assembly and win. Still, let’s daydream shall we?  What if Adam did run for Congress this year?  Who will jump into the Assembly race? Remember Adam Powell can not run for Congress and the Assembly at the same time.  Both seats are up this year at the same time.

Vapor speak has it that former Assemblyman Nelson Denis is thinking about running for office again.  Would he run if Adam Powell challenges the great and mighty Congressman Rangel? Then there are all those brand spanking new female Democratic District Leaders.  Can an empty Assembly seat entice one or a few of them to change gears like an electron out of its orbit and run for the Assembly to replace Adam?  Candy? Evelyn?  Let’s see what happens.  If none of them run and if Adam does challenge the Congressman, heck, I’d be tempted to run.  (After winning the Lotto of course, hey who has the money?)

Lastly, how about the Presidential race?  Look for Kerry to win the nomination and then loose to President Bush in November.  That’s how it’ll go.  Don’t blame me. It’s just a prediction of what will happen.

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