By Bob Kappstatter
The long national nightmare, as they say, for Bronx Assemblyman Peter Rivera finally ended on Saturday when Gov. Cuomo named him new state labor commissioner.
The announcement came at the annual Somos El Futuro winter conference of the state Assembly/Senate Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force, where Rivera is an elder statesman whose appointment can’t but help Cuomo solidify his Latino support.
Rivera, according to all reports, has pretty much been searching for a new paycheck outside the state Assembly for a number of years now, while still hedging his bets over running for another term or for a judgeship.
Before his new state gig, Rivera’s last hope was reported to be a run for the plum job of Bronx Surrogate, whose office doles out assignments (and fancy fees) to party-faithful lawyers to handle the estates of persons who die without wills.
Although Rivera was saying as late as Friday that he was weighing a run for Surrogate, that dream pretty much crashed and burned recently when the Bronx Democratic Party’s non-partisan judicial screening panel put the kibosh on it, labeling the attorney and former assistant Bronx D.A. “unqualified.”
Not that he would have received party backing in the judicial primary (Dem Party Boss Carl Heastie reportedly already has a favorite candidate) or might have survived his next Assembly primary race, with the opposing candidate already backed by a powerful local state senator.
Although baseball and politics ain’t over ’til it’s over, a number of Bronx political insiders say attorney and party operative Luis Sepulveda now holds the winning edge to fill Rivera’s 76th Assembly District seat in Parkchester/Castle Hill/West Farms/Van Nest.
His nearest challenger in the Democratic primary is Rivera’s longtime chief of staff, Danny Figueroa, who only recently began to plow the district for votes – and name recognition.