Can A Bronx BP Candidate’s Endorsement By A Divisive Police Union Help Him Win The Race?


Because the NYPD and its ethos fall below better scrutiny by lawmakers, Councilmember Fernando Cabrera distinguished himself from the remainder of the Democratic candidates within the race for Bronx Borough President by just lately accepting the endorsement of the Sergeants Benevolent Affiliation (SBA), one of many NYPD unions whose leaders have confirmed to be a thorn on the aspect of Democrats.

It is a uncommon endorsement of a Democrat from a police union that frequently leans Republican, most just lately throwing their assist to GOP Representatives Nicole Malliotakis of Staten Island/Brooklyn and Elise Stefanik within the North Nation. The 2 went on to win the November election.

The endorsement additionally represents a type of gamble for Cabrera, who’s working for workplace in a borough that is handled years of aggressive stop-and-frisk encounters and questionable shootings by NYPD officers. On one hand, the endorsement can convey Cabrera volunteers for telephone banking, entry to marketing campaign donations, and focused messaging to the 13,000 energetic members and potential voters. Of their endorsement, the SBA thought-about Cabrera (whose identify was misspelled within the press launch) a “supply of sturdy and regular assist” within the final decade Cabrera’s been in workplace.

“So many elected officers have deserted their assist of the police due to the best way the [way] political winds are blowing,” Ed Mullins, the SBA president, mentioned in a press release saying the endorsement. “Councilman Carbrera [sic] realizes the challenges we face and has by no means wavered in his assist. In an period of nice political upheaval and divisiveness, he has labored arduous to convey folks collectively and earn our belief.”

Alternatively, by accepting the endorsement, Cabrera—who leads candidates in fundraising—inherits the union’s controversial baggage, together with its litany of feedback made by Mullins.

The endorsement is indicative of the Democratic lane Cabrera’s making an attempt to place himself in, as different viable candidates keep on with the progressive Democrat strategy that possible will cut up the vote. Certainly, Cabrera has lengthy been pegged as a extra socially conservative Democrat than his rivals given his voting file by which he didn’t assist a invoice that allowed New Yorkers to change their chosen gender designation.

Cabrera additionally leads a flock of nondenominational congregants as pastor at New Life Worldwide Church, which features a “Assertion of Religion” on their web site that declares marriage is simply between a person and lady. His positions have been underscored after a controversial video that surfaced in 2014 confirmed him supporting the Ugandan authorities’s anti-gay marriage stance.

However he has additionally leaned in on Mayor Invoice de Blasio’s felony justice insurance policies that embody funding for the Treatment Violence mannequin the place former gang members are employed to defuse potential disputes between gangs and crews. Within the final decade since representing the 14th Council District, Cabrera has earmarked hundreds of {dollars} for safety cameras throughout the district. On his marketing campaign web site, he states his intent to use that technique Bronx-wide if elected borough president.

He has additionally been important of police ways prior to now, declaring officers ought to take a knee in solidarity with demonstrators throughout final yr’s protest towards police violence.

Different contenders within the race embody Councilmember Vanessa Gibson, Assemblymember Nathalia Fernandez, state Senator Luis Sepulveda, and Samuel Ravelo, who was handed over by the SBA regardless of serving within the NYPD and remaining a vocal proponent in sustaining the division’s outsized finances. The 5 are vying for the seat that might be vacated by present Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. when his 12-year time period ends this yr.

John DeSio, vp on the public relations agency Risa Heller Communications and who beforehand served as director of communications for Diaz Jr., argued that the SBA’s endorsement of Cabrera was not essentially wanted since Cabrera has lengthy been acknowledged as a average Democrat.

“Fernando Cabrera has all the time had a extra average, centrist repute,” DeSio advised Gothamist/WNYC. “He did not want the SBA’s endorsement to show that, however now that he has it he’s within the place the place he might doubtlessly be pressured to reply for lots of the actually disagreeable to heinous issues that they’ve mentioned about folks in latest months, together with folks within the Bronx.”

A few of these targets of defamation embody Cabrera’s former Council colleague turned Consultant Ritchie Torres. Two months after profitable the first for the Bronx’s fifteenth Congressional District seat, by which he defeated SBA-backed Democratic candidate Ruben Diaz Sr. (Diaz Jr.’s father), Torres recommended that the summer time crime spike was largely resulting from an unconfirmed NYPD work slowdown. Mullins shot again at Torres by calling him a “first-class whore,” prompting Torres to name the SBA a “bona fide hate group.” A criticism towards Mullins was ultimately filed with the Civilian Criticism Evaluation Board.

“The SBA is pure poison,” Torres advised Gothamist.

The SBA additionally went after de Blasio’s daughter Chiara final June after tweeting out her arrest file filed after collaborating in a police accountability protest final yr. On the time, Torres and Council Speaker Corey Johnson had known as for an investigation into who leaked the arrest sheet. The SBA additionally took warmth final yr after posting a tweet calling former metropolis Well being Division Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot a “bitch” following a narrative involving a dispute over masks between the Well being Division and the NYPD.

Mullins—a powerful supporter of former President Donald Trump—additional generated controversy in July after showing on Fox Information from his workplace the place a mug with a brand for QAnon, the conspiracy concept that alleges that devil-worshipping intercourse predators affiliated with the Democratic Social gathering are trying to overthrow Trump. Mullins didn’t reply to a request for remark.

However the political baggage that comes with an SBA endorsement, receiving it might probably play properly in additional average Democratic neighborhoods, notably in japanese sections of the Bronx that embody Throggs Neck, Nation Membership, and Morris Park, areas that have been represented by former state Senator Jeff Klein.

Klein had shaped the Impartial Democratic Convention, which shared energy with Republicans, bringing all kinds of discretionary funding to the borough. These areas are represented by Councilmember Mark Gjonaj, one other centrist Democrat who supported Cabrera’s short-lived run for the 14th Congressional District, presently held by Consultant Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (Klein was defeated in 2018 by Alessandra Biaggi.)

Whereas pockets of the Bronx have constantly lauded the police, and even held “Back the Blue” rallies, it is also a borough the place staunch critics of the police have made their voices heard. These voices have been amplified following the arrests of dozens of protesters in an illustration in Mott Haven on June 4th final yr. Lots of these protesters have been kettled by police, leading to a metropolis Division of Investigation probe that discovered the NYPD’s response was “deeply flawed.”

Cabrera didn’t return a request for remark.