The primary to replace retiring Rep. José Serrano in the South Bronx has come to be defined by the sheer number of candidates.

Twelve Democrats will be on the June 23 ballot:


What You Need To Know

  • Twelve Democrats looking to fill seat being vacating by 30-year Rep. José Serrano.

  • Top fundraisers are Ritchie Torres, Michael Blake and Melissa Mark-Viverito.

  • But others have deep name recognition or high-profile endorsements.

The three who’ve raised the most funds are City Councilman Ritchie Torres, State Assemblyman Michael Blake, and former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

“COVID-19 has been a reinforcement of my central mission, which is to break the cycle of racially concentrated poverty," Torres said. “Only the federal government has the tools to address the root causes of the affordability crisis, of racial disparities in public health.”

“From the work I did with President Obama to the work I’m doing in the State Assembly to being born and raised here, I am absolutely ready to implement our vision of ‘Believe in the Bronx’ in Congress," Blake said.

“It’s my track record of accomplishment, my track record of success,” Mark-Viverito said. “That when I walk into the community, the la viejita on the corner tells me, ‘¡Ay! Yo te veo luchando por nosotros.’ ‘I see you fighting for us all the time.’”

The next tier of three also has clout.

Rubén Díaz Sr. is a City Councilman and former state senator with deep name recognition in the Bronx.

Ydanis Rodríguez is chair of the City Council’s Committee on Transportation.

Samelys López lags in fundraising but enjoys high-profile progressive support from the likes of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

There are several dynamics at play in the race in the poorest congressional district in the country.

Some candidates say their personal experiences set them apart.

Torres grew up in public housing.

López and Frangell Basora spent parts of their childhoods in the shelter system.

Tomas Ramos’s early years were shaped by his father’s incarceration.

Another theme in the race is homophobia. Torres, if elected, would be the city’s first openly gay Congress member.

Díaz is vocally anti-gay. He’s been targeted for condemnation by national LBGTQ groups.

And another factor is residency. Five candidates live outside the district, including Mark-Viverito, Rodríguez, and Díaz. They’re still eligible to run.

And the 15th Congressional District, like the pool of contenders, is predominantly Latino.

But not to be underestimated is the sway of its African American voters. Blake says he has a multi-racial coalition.

Chivona Newsome co-founded Black Lives Matter of Greater New York.

Julio Pabón, Marlene Tapper and Mark Escoffery-Bey are also on the ballot.


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