There Is No Love Lost Between Senator Ruben Diaz and Gerson Borrero

Gerson Borrero and State Senator Ruben Diaz in their respective hats.

Gerson Borrero and State Senator Ruben Diaz in their respective hats.

The latest edition of State Senator Ruben Diaz’s periodic “What You Should Know” email columns contained an attack against Gerson Borrero, a NY1 contributor and columnist for the Spanish-language newspaper El Diario. In his email, Mr. Diaz accused Mr. Borrero of lying about him, having a “deep obsession” with him and even “trying to imitate my dressing style.”

“There are some people who, when they fall in love or feel envious, may easily feel rejected. Any real or perceived rejection could bring them to the edge of absurdity. Sometimes they even become liars,” Mr. Diaz wrote. “This seems to be true in the case of Mr. Gerson Borrero, a reporter, who has issues with me. If you read or hear Mr. Borrero’s writings or commentaries about me, you might think this individual has a deep obsession with me.”

Mr. Borrero had some harsh words of his own for Mr. Diaz when Politicker called him to discuss the column this morning.

“I’m not particularly obsessed with him like he suggests,” said Mr. Borrero. “I’m definitely not enamored with him. I don’t like him, I’ve never had such bad taste. I think he’s an ugly person, not physically, he is an ugly human being. I think he is Lucifer personified.”

Mr. Diaz and Mr. Borrero have sparred with each other in the past. This latest spat started over Mr. Diaz’s opposition to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s selection of Jenny Rivera to serve as a judge on the state Court of Appeals. When the governor’s pick was announced, Mr. Diaz, who is a Democrat, sided with Republicans in the Legislature who criticized Ms. Rivera as lacking the necessary experience to serve on the state’s highest court. Mr. Borrero traveled to Albany to back Ms. Rivera and attacked Mr. Diaz’s decision to oppose her on the airwaves.

“Mr. Borrero’s envy of and obsession about me has taken him to the extreme. He’s clearly in the pits, and he can’t seem to stop himself from throwing poison darts at me. He refers to me as Satan, as Lucifer, as a viper, and has even asked if I am homosexual. Whoever listens to him might get the impression that he is in love with me,” Mr. Diaz wrote. “This past week, Mr. Borrero traveled all the way to the Senate Chamber in the State Capital in Albany with a group of people and reporters from the city to show their support for the nomination of Ms. Jenny Rivera. … My dear readers, you should know that Mr. Borrero has reached one of his lowest points of desperation (and absurdity) when he–with full knowledge and premeditation–lied straight into the TV camera this week.”

According to Mr. Diaz, Mr. Borrero incorrectly suggested he “did not mention a single woman” when he named other people who were more qualified for the court appointment than Ms. Rivera. Mr. Diaz also said Mr. Borrero incorrectly referred to him as “the only Democrat who voted against Ms. Jenny Rivera.”

“In the official Senate video, I never said that I was voting against her. She won, and since the vote was a voice vote, nobody knows who voted for and who voted against,” explained Mr. Diaz. “There is a clear difference between a voice vote and a roll call vote. It’s time for someone to try to educate Mr. Gerson Borrero and tell him that it was a voice vote and not a roll call vote, and suggest to him that the next time, he should pay less attention to his obsession with me, and more time to what I actually say.”

For his part, Mr. Borrero, acknowledged Mr. Diaz did suggest some women who could be appointed to the post, but said he was highlighting the fact the senator mainly focused on men in his list of potential judicial nominees. In a “What You Should Know” email sent out last week, Mr. Diaz proposed nine alternative nominees, four of whom were women. However, Mr. Borrero also said the three most well-known and realistic candidates suggested by Mr. Diaz were all men.

As far as the confirmation vote, Mr. Borrero said a roll call vote was not taken because Ms. Rivera has a clear majority and accused Mr. Diaz of trying to hide his opposition to Ms. Rivera behind the secretive voice vote.

“It was a voice vote and he says he didn’t vote for or against her. He is a coward. He is a liar,” said Mr. Borrero. “He doesn’t have the cojones to say, ‘I voted against her.’ He vilified her. He insulted her. He minimized the fact of her achievements. … He’s entitled to oppose her. Why is he denying it now? He said he was going to vote against her.”

During our conversation, Mr. Borrero repeatedly told us we should print all of the most off-color phrases he used to describe Mr. Diaz and said he wanted to be “as insulting as possible.”

“He’s a viper that lives in a latrine and his mouth is the latrine,” Mr. Borrero said of the senator, adding, “He smells bad.”

Though Mr. Diaz’s email was primarily inspired by his disagreements with Mr. Borrero’s commentary on Ms. Rivera’s confirmation, he also accused the columnist of attempting to copy his ideas. He pointed out the title of his email column series “What You Should Know” is similar to the title of Mr. Borrero’s segments on NY1 Noticias, which air under the banner “Para Que Lo Sepas,” which means “For You to Know” in English.

“Not only is he trying to imitate me in his column with his writings, but also–walking through the New York State Senate hallways with a cowboy hat perched on his head–he’s now trying to imitate my dressing style!” wrote Mr. Diaz. “I guarantee you that his obsession with me made him the laughing stock of Albany when everyone in the Senate came running to me to tell me: ‘You have to go outside and see for yourself how Borrero is trying to be like you!’”

Mr. Borrero said he has been doing his “Para Que Lo Sepas” segments “for years” and described the name as having been picked by producers at NY1. He also vigorously defended the originality of his headwear.

“I’ve been wearing hats for so long,” Mr. Borrero said. “I wear fedoras by the way, I’ve never worn cowboy hats. … I’ve been wearing hats forever. He just started wearing hats to cover his bald spot.”

To bolster his argument, Mr. Borrero sent us a picture of part of his hat collection and a photo of the hat he said he wore on his visit to Albany this week.

Though he clearly disagrees with almost everything in Mr. Diaz’s latest email, Mr. Borrero conceded the missive was well-written. However, he doesn’t think Mr. Diaz deserves credit for the composition.

“He’s got a great writer, whoever writes for him, because he’s incapable of putting a sentence together in Spanish or English,” said Mr. Borrero. “I know that for a fact.”

Mr. Borrero also accused Mr. Diaz of spending his time on columns that “vilify his opponents” rather than his senate duties.

“I do have a problem with him writing on the peoples’ time,” Mr. Borrero said. “I’m just surprised that an elected official has time to use the peoples’ money for this type of nonsense.”