Pols work the crowd at Puerto Rican Day Parade
By Shant Shahrigian
State Sen. Gustavo Rivera danced his way down much of the route of the Bronx Puerto Rican Day Parade on Sunday, pausing to speak and take photos with attendees.
Less than 100 feet behind him, Councilman Fernando Cabrera quickly zigzagged from one side of the Grand Concourse to another, shaking as many hands as he could while aides handed out fliers proclaiming Mr. Cabrera’s intent to take Mr. Rivera’s seat in the September Democratic primary.
The parade came just days after Mr. Cabrera made his challenge official. In a previous interview, Mr. Rivera said his campaign will focus on his efforts to restore trust in his position after his predecessor Pedro Espada Jr. was imprisoned for embezzlement in 2010. Mr. Cabrera plans to tout his city council record, especially the fruits of his member item funding, in his run.
However, the parade’s loud beats and muggy weather drowned out the policy differences between the men. They turned on the charm as they chatted, hugged and posed with dozens of potential voters lined along the Grand Concourse from East 192nd Street to Van Cortlandt Avenue East.
“Che vive Puerto Rico!” — Puerto Rico lives! — Mr. Rivera, a native of the territory, shouted to applause.
After a group of women told him he looked like the governor of Puerto Rico, Mr. Rivera took off his brimmed hat to reveal what he said was a marked difference with the island politician — the senator’s shaved head. The gesture drew loud laughter and claps from the women, although some of them said the governor recently shaved his head, too.
As Mr. Cabrera moved down the Grand Concourse, Miguel Pinero loudly shouted, “You the man!”
After the councilman stopped for a quick clasp of the hands and moved on, Mr. Pinero reflected on his support for Mr. Cabrera.
“He’s got what I’m thinking about,” said Mr. Pinero, a salsa musician who was wearing a shirt with the Puerto Rican flag. “I don’t know his work, but I know what he says.”