Labor Wonders About New Roosevelts

It seems there’s a small rift in the broadening effort to defeat state Senator Pedro Espada Jr. in the Bronx.

The New Roosevelt Initiative made a big splash early on, holding a protest at the senator’s non-district address in Mamaroneck, and pledging to spend as much as $250,000 to take down Espada–the primary target in founder Bill Samuels’ larger effort to help reform Albany.

But now, with a large coalition of labor unions–and the labor-backed Working Families Party–also rallying behind (and raising for) Espada’s challenger, Gustavo Rivera, some are starting to wonder where NRI has been lately.

“Labor and the W.F.P. are on the ground in a big way behind Gustavo,” said one labor insider. “But Espada is out buying votes and doing who knows what other shenanigans. New Roosevelt needs to remind voters why Espada has to go.”

NRI said it’s still all in.

“We’ve long been on the record reminding people why Espada has to go,” said Jay Strell, a spokesman for NRI.

“Part of the issue here is that people know Espada is a bad guy,” he said, referencing a recent NRI-sponsored poll that showed many district voters hold a negative view of Espada, but don’t yet know much about Rivera. “What we’re trying to do is strike a balance between a positive message and a negative message.”

Strell said the group has several mailers in the works–both positive and negative–and will open a Bronx field office next  this week (possibly as early as tomorrow) so that the organization has “boots on the ground.”

“We’re having a very aggressive push,” he said.

The sniping could represent some early jockeying for who gets credit if Rivera succeed in beating Espada, who is considered by many Democrats to be public enemy number one.

Espada, for his part, is taking aim at all of them.

UPDATE: Strell sends along two mailers from NRI. He said the first dropped last week, the second drops today, and promises more to come.

Gustavo 3-4 Labor Wonders About New Roosevelts