Bloomberg Meets a Democratic District Leader

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Attending Michael Bloomberg’s press conference inside a restaurant on 106th Street in Spanish Harlem this afternoon were two members of the City Council and John Ruiz, who the mayor noted is retired from the F.D.N.Y. and “a vice chairman of the Manhattan Democratic Party.”

Afterward, Ruiz was approached by a few reporters about why he was at the event.

Ruiz said he invited by his local City Council member, Melissa Mark-Viverito, because he is a local district leader. (The other Council member at the event was Council Speaker Christine Quinn.)

Ruiz said his attendance does not constitute an endorsement, but he said it was nice to be noticed by the mayor.

“I think it’s nice the mayor acknowledges community leaders,” Ruiz said after the event. “It’s so important because sometimes, we’re the guys who are forgotten. It’s so respectful of him to say, ‘Hey, this is John Ruiz, he’s a district leader.’”

Later, Mark-Viverito walked over and I asked her why she invited a district leader to the mayor’s event. “Oh, I invited all the district leaders. I’m a Democrat. I invited all my district leaders, and John came.”

Mark-Viverito said the day’s announcement was to encourage people to visit “our neighborhood. They represent our neighborhood.”

I told Mark-Viverito that Bloomberg is running on the Republican and Independence lines for re-election, and asked if she had reached out to district leaders in those parties to invite them.

“No, because we really don’t have those in East Harlem. In East Harlem, we never have a Republican running. In East Harlem, it’s a Democratic stronghold,” she said.

Mark-Viverito said she has not made any decision about who she’ll endorse in the mayor’s race, only saying, “I am a Democrat.” When asked, she acknowledged it would be tough for a Democrat to win this year, saying, “It’s a challenge. It’s a challenge. Clearly, the playing field is not equal.”