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October 28, 2009: Vol. 1, No. 13
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Democrat Koppell endorses Bloomberg

11th Council District incumbent Oliver Koppell has gone against the Bronx County Democratic Party and endorsed Michael Bloomberg for mayor.
Bronx Times-Reporter

Anthony Rivieccio is flabbergasted. On Monday, October 26, incumbent 11th Council District Democrat Oliver Koppell endorsed incumbent Republican Michael Bloomberg for mayor.

“If Oliver intends to do Bloomberg [mailings] in Bedford Park and Norwood, we’ll be glad to burn [the mailings] on Mosholu Parkway,” Rivieccio said.

Rivieccio led Koppell’s Democratic primary campaign in Bedford Park and Norwood, and assumed that the longtime legislator would endorse mayoral candidate and fellow Democrat Bill Thompson. Indeed, Rivieccio helped Thompson tour Koppell-land – also known as Kingsbridge – on Friday, October 16. Then Koppell appeared in a video on Bloomberg’s campaign website.

“I’m supporting the mayor because he’s been an outstanding manager of the city,” Koppell said.

The endorsement, a week before the Tuesday, November 3 general election, blindsided Democratic stalwarts like Rivieccio.

“Why did he [endorse Bloomberg]?” Rivieccio said. “Frankly, I don’t know. I’m disappointed that Oliver would support someone against the preservation of neighborhoods…against community benefits agreements.”

Bloomberg is opposed to a community benefits agreement at the soon-to-be-redeveloped Kingsbridge Armory. Thompson is for a benefits agreement.

Assemblyman Jeff Dinowtiz, who heads the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club of which Koppell is a member, is disappointed. The club stands behind Thompson, he said. Dinowitz called Bloomberg’s $85 million campaign a “perversion of democracy.”

“I urged [Koppell] to endorse the Democrat,” Dinowitz said. “It never crossed my mind that he wouldn’t.”

Patrick Jenkins, on behalf of Bronx County Democratic Party chair Carl Heastie, issued a similar statement.

“There is a large amount of disappointment among residents of the Bronx and of [Koppell’s] district,” Jenkins said. “The Bronx has not been handled well by the mayor.”

No other Bronx Dems have endorsed Bloomberg, Jenkins said. Even so, the party won’t punish Koppell, he added.

“[Koppell] is a party member and a former attorney general,” Jenkins admitted. “I don’t think anyone will say that something bad will happen to him. Every now and then members of a family have a difference of opinion.”

Koppell didn’t choose a mayoral candidate until a few days ago, he said. The 11th Council District incumbent cited Bloomberg’s bans on trans fats and smoking, and his 311 system as visionary. Bloomberg backed a Riverdale rezone, Koppell said. Public schools have improved under the mayor, he added.

Defeated 11th Council District candidate Tony Cassino is furious. Koppell trashed Cassino as a Bloomberg supporter, the Democrat said.

“Why did he wait until after the primary to endorse Bloomberg?” Cassino asked. “So he didn’t have to answer questions. I stood up in public because I thought people needed to know. What he did was disingenuous.”

Koppell only blasted Cassino as a Bloomberg fan when the other man condemned his mayor-friendly vote to extend term limits, he said. Koppell admitted that he wants to join “Bloomberg’s team” and hopes that the endorsement will result in better access to the mayor. But Bloomberg made no promises, he added.

Koppell expects no backlash from Bronx Dems. He stumped with the mayor at the Riverdale Metro-North station on Tuesday, October 27, where Bloomberg received a warm welcome, he said.

Contact reporter Daniel Beekman by phone at (718) 742-3383 or email at dbeekman@cnglocal.com

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