Torres vs. Serrano? Potential Primary Challenge Rattles Hispanic Politics

Council member Ritchie Torres with Washington Avenue tenants in the Bronx. (Photo via El Diario)

Last year, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz made history when she defeated U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley, a New York Democratic Party heavyweight, after two decades in Congress. Motivated by such a feat, Bronx City Council member Ritchie Torres is seriously considering entering the fray in the next Democratic primaries and challenging Rep. José Serrano who will, as of this week, have spent 29 years as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Torres’ spokesman Raymond Rodríguez confirmed that the current chair of the City Council’s Committee on Oversight and Investigations started a process of analyzing a potential run which, if confirmed, would be announced in the following months.

“The councilman is in the exploratory stages of a campaign, and is considering all his options,” said Rodríguez. For some voters, such as Andrés Torres, 62, who has lived in the Bronx for 40 years, this is good news.

It would be an “interesting challenge” to watch a Torres match against the current District 15 representative, said the Puerto Rican, adding that he has closely followed Serrano’s career, and that in case it finally happens he would vote for new blood.

“I like it when I hear about young people wanting to run for that seat. The problem with people already in power is that, after so much time in politics, they often prefer to leave things as they are. That’s why I think younger people, like Ritchie, can do a better job and bring the change we need,” said Torres. “Also, we share the same surname, that’s another reason to vote for him!” added the bodega worker, who offered the council member some advice to win over Bronx voters.

“I think what’s more needed here are jobs for poor and middle-aged people, but not as assistants or cleaning kitchens, but higher-ranking, better-paid jobs,” said the Puerto Rican, who also appreciates some of Serrano’s work. “I know him and I give him mixed reviews. I think he’s done some good things, especially programs to help the Hispanic community, but he has lacked initiative, and lately he has not promoted more changes to help us, which is something a young person could do faster.”

Luis Correa, 65, shares the views of his Bronx neighbor, but thinks both Torres and Serrano have not done enough to be known within the community.

“Many people don’t even know who they are, and I think politicians must learn how to make sure their voters know them well. However, I think it’s really interesting to see a young man facing someone who has been in that position for so long, to see who wins: experience or new energy,” said Correa.

Not everyone is pleased that Torres is considering challenging a Serrano.

Altagracia Ojeda, who declares herself a faithful admirer of the current U.S. representative, says that although she also considers Torres a good politician, she doesn’t support a Latino confronting another Latino.

“That girl who won, Ocasio, she was running against a blanquito and that was good for our community, but in the case of Serrano he is a Hispanic who has done a lot for us and I feel that if another Latino comes out to fight him it means that we are not united, that we are attacking ourselves,” said the former teacher, now retired.

After Ocasio-Cortéz’s win, council member Torres said a few months ago that he saw that victory as an “awakening and a moment of liberation,” and that as he mulls whether he will finally add his name to the Democratic primaries next year, he will keep quiet about Rep. Serrano.

The U.S. representative from the Bronx did not respond to El Diario’s enquiries about his views on a potential face-off with Torres.

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  1. Pingback: – Jose Serrano to Retire

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