Ritchie Torres endorses Mark Gjonaj for open 13th District council seat
New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres is endorsing Mark Gjonaj for an open seat in the council’s 13th District, possibly signaling an easing of tensions after a hard-fought race in the East Bronx.
Torres had endorsed Marjorie Velazquez in the Democratic primary. She was seen as a more progressive candidate, and had the support of City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and City Councilman James Vacca, who holds the seat but is term-limited. Gjonaj, who represents part of the district in the Assembly, was backed by the Bronx Democratic Party in the primary. Torres has not always seen eye to eye with the county organization, and the early endorsement after the primary may be an effort to make nice ahead of a run for City Council speaker.
Torres has announced his candidacy for speaker, but said he’ll only stay in the race if he earns the support of the Bronx’s City Council delegation. Gjonaj will face liberal Republican accountant John Cerini in the November general election. Gjonaj showed himself to be an able fundraiser in the primary, earning more contributions than any other council candidate, and will be favored in the heavily Democratic Bronx.
Torres contacted City & State to say “Mark is a personal friend, he is the Democratic nominee. We have a great working relationship, so endorsing him is a no-brainer. It has nothing to do with the speaker's race.”