Campaigning continues at beach fireworks
By Shant Shahrigian
Campaigning for office may not be more American than Corn Flakes, the Fourth of July and Uncle Sam, but it is up there. Political overtones pervaded the Bronx’s annual pre-Independence Day fireworks show at Orchard Beach as thousands of people gathered for a night of colorful pyrotechnics on the water.
Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. was blunt about promoting the event’s co-sponsor, state Sen. Co-Majority Leader Jeff Klein, during a speech before the show.
“There’s a young man in the state senate who’s a co-leader there and he’s making us all proud and we need to keep him there,” Mr. Diaz said on a stage facing the beach’s colonnaded bathhouse. “He’s good for New York; he’s good for the Bronx; he’s good for all of us.”
“We’ve got to keep him in the state senate!” he concluded.
Mr. Klein is facing a Democratic primary challenge from Riverdale’s former Councilman Oliver Koppell, who was not at the June 27 event.
The incumbent did not explicitly talk about his reelection bid during the festivities. But he had plenty of praise for Mr. Diaz and other officials there. Most members of the Bronx’s Democratic establishment have endorsed Mr. Klein.
“I want to say a very special thank you to my special friend, our outstanding Bronx borough president,” Mr. Klein said as dusk spread over the beach. “The two of us are always on the same page because we want the best for the Bronx. Let’s give it up for our borough president, Ruben Diaz Jr.!”
Mr. Klein went on to thank other officials at the event including Mr. Diaz’s father, state senator Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr., calling him “a spiritual adviser, not only in the Bronx, but in the New York state senate.”
Staunch Klein supporter Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj along with Councilman Andy King, state Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson and other officials also got shout-outs from Mr. Diaz and Mr. Klein, who announced some of the names in unison to the crowd.
The event’s co-sponsors maintained their mutually reinforcing tone during brief interviews after their speeches.