The city’s top law enforcement union has endorsed controversial conservative Democratic Councilman Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr. for an open congressional seat in the south Bronx.
The Police Benevolent Association said Diaz is its favored choice in a crowded field of 10 Democratic candidates running in the June 23 primary in the 15th congressional district to replace veteran Rep. Jose Serrano, who is retiring.
Other candidates include Councilman Ritchie Torres, former Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Assemblyman Michael Blake, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and community activist Samelys Lopez, who is backed by lefty firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents the adjacent 14th congressional district.
“Your commitment to public and law enforcement are well recognized, and it would be an honor to have you representing our members in Congress,” PBA president Patrick Lynch said in a letter to Diaz.
“We look forward to working with you towards our shared goal of a stronger, safer New York.”
Diaz, known for stumping with his trademark cowboy hat, said he was honored by the PBA’s support because “I’ve always been a person who believes in law and order.”
The PBA’s endorsement of Diaz Sr., whose son, Ruben Diaz Jr. is the Bronx borough president, will be viewed as a stick in the eye to New York’s progressives and particularly the LGBT community.
Diaz, a Pentecostal minister, is a lightning rod among fellow liberal Democrats for his anti-gay remarks and positions as well as his opposition to abortion rights.
Diaz was stripped of his role as chairman of the Council committee overseeing for-hire vehicles last year after he said in an interview that the chamber was “controlled by the homosexual community in a Spanish-language TV program, which picked up by NY1. He refused to apologize.
Council Speaker Corey Johnson who is openly gay, apologized for giving Diaz the chairmanship.
Diaz, who also has served in the state Senate, has long had an antagonist relationship with the LGBT community for opposing same sex marriage.
He also invited conservative Texas and then-presidential candidate Ted Cruz to his district in 2016, another indignity to progressive and has said nice things about President Trump.
Diaz, also has been a champion of charter schools as an option for kids — setting himself apart from many Democrats aligned with the anti-charter teachers’ union.
“I’m going to win this race. I’m going to serve everyone regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation,” Diaz said.
But Bronx United, a group formed to defeat Diaz, said, “Ruben Diaz Sr. is a conservative extremist who would be Donald Trump’s favorite New York politician if he ever got to Washington. We are opposing him because he’d be a destructive voice in Washington at a time when the South Bronx and New York City need real leadership.”
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