Koppell challenges Klein for senate seat


Updated at 10:22 p.m.

Former Riverdale Councilman G. Oliver Koppell is challenging state Sen. Co-Majority Leader Jeff Klein for his seat. Mr. Koppell’s Monday decision to run will test loyalties in Riverdale as it stands to possibly change the balance of power in the senate, drawing the interest of people around the country.

“What made me decide to run is primarily the expressions of support that I’m receiving from all over the state,” Mr. Koppell said in a phone interview, ending months of speculation about whether he would challenge Mr. Klein in the September primary ballot.

Mr. Koppell previously said he would not run if Mr. Klein disbanded his breakaway group of senate Democrats that co-rules the senate with Republicans and rejoined the mainstream Senate Democratic Conference. Mr. Klein, who is considered one of the most powerful politicians in the state, has made no indication he will do so.

“This is not about Oliver Koppell,” the former councilman said on Monday. “This is about Democrats controlling the senate, which they should, because the majority of senators are Democrats. That’s the way the legislative system is supposed to work.”

Riverdale ties

The contest is sure to be a tough one, with both the challenger and incumbent having strong ties in this part of the Bronx. Mr. Koppell will look to Riverdale as his main source of support as his campaign gets underway.

“Riverdale has a history of being a progressive, Democratic community,” Mr. Koppell said. “Riverdale also has a history of supporting me throughout my career, which goes back to 1970.”

“I anticipate that Riverdale is going to be a critical part of my campaign,” he continued. “Support here is certainly very important to me. It’s also critical in terms of winning the primary.”

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