Bronx Democrats toss AOC-affiliated Senator Gustavo Rivera over far-left positions

The Bronx’s Democratic Party decided to part ways with a veteran incumbent amid a contentious power struggle between its left and far-left flanks.

In an unusual move, the Bronx Dems leadership has snubbed state senator Gustavo Rivera and instead backed his rival, attorney Miguelina Camilo, in the newly partitioned 33rd district.

Even more surprisingly, other state legislators who lead the Bronx’s Democratic Party — State Senator Jamaal Bailey, who is the party’s leader, and Rep. Jeffrey Dinowitz, the party’s secretary — support the move to fire their colleague.

“Gustavo has allied himself with the extreme left of the party. Disappointing the police isn’t going to go down well in the 33rd Circuit,” said Dinowitz, whose assembly district overlaps with the Senate district, including Riverdale.

Rivera joined the left-leaning Working Families Party and Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in backing insurgent Jessica Woolford against Dinowitz in the June 28 assembly primary. Dinowitz struck down Woolford.

Bronx Rep. Michael Benedetto also easily defeated main contender Jonathan Soto, who was backed by the WFP and Ocasio-Cortez. Benedetto and Dinowitz were among the incumbents who beat back leftist insurgents on a good day for the establishment and a bad day for the political left.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) walks after speaking with abortion rights activists before the US Supreme Court after the court returned a verdict in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health case, June 24, 2022 in Washington, DC Organization had announced.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez supported Jessica Woolford in her attempt to replace Rep. Jeffrey Dinowitz.
Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Approximately one-third of Rivera’s district is new under court-ordered redistribution and includes the Northwest Bronx neighborhoods of Riverdale and Norwood. The Senate primary will be held on August 23.

Dinowitz noted that Rivera now resides in the 31st district but insisted on running again in the 33rd. Camilo chose to run in the 33rd rather than the 34th district following the re-allocation, an open seat after state Senator Alessandra Biaggi opted to run for Congress.

But Rivera, who was first elected in 2010 after defeating convicted crook Pedro Espada, has the support of the Working Families Party and a host of powerful unions. He has been linked to left-wing causes such as ousting the police and establishing a state health insurance system.

State Senator Jamaal Bailey speaks.
State Senator Jamaal Bailey is the leader of the Bronx Democratic Party.
Robert Mueller

Rivera, the chair of the Senate Health Committee, has also pushed controversial policies like providing sweeping benefits to illegal immigrants and introducing legislation to open “safe injection sites” to give drug addicts clean needles for injecting drugs.

State Senate leadership — Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins ​​(D-Yonkers) and Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) — also support Rivera’s re-election.

“I always support my incumbent members and want them all to return to the Senate. Senator Rivera has always been a valuable member of the Senate and I look forward to continuing to serve with him,” said Stewart-Cousins.

Rep. Jeffrey Dinowitz promoting legislation to end New York State's religious exemption from vaccinations.
Rep. Jeffrey Dinowitz accused state Senator Gustavo Rivera of supporting left-wing causes.
William Farington

Rivera’s response to the Bronx party snub? Bring it on!

“Senator Gustavo Rivera has represented working people in the Bronx for over a decade. He is a labor candidate and advocate for his community,” a campaign spokesman said in a statement.

“The Senator has already amassed support and endorsements from 1199 SEIU, CWA, NYSUT and PSC l. He will keep fighting and delivering for his community. He represents over 70% of this district and is looking forward to a lively primary,” said the Rivera camp.

Miguelina Camilo for the New York State Senate
Lawyer Miguelina Camilo previously headed the city’s electoral board as commissioner.
Facebook/Miguelina Camilo

Camilo formerly ran the Bronx Women’s Bar Association and served as a commissioner on the city’s Election Committee, an appointment that goes to those with close ties to party leadership.

“I am very proud to have the support of @bronxdems, an organization that has grown me as a young lawyer and an active member of our Bronx community,” Camilo tweeted on Tuesday. Bronx Democrats toss AOC-affiliated Senator Gustavo Rivera over far-left positions


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