Labor’s Lone Ranger

Dennis Rivera’s Tortured Path to a Mayoral Endorsement

Rivera told the story as he sat glumly on the carpeted stairs at the Sheraton, not far from the ballroom where his picture had been booed a week earlier. He was there now to stand on a crowded platform with Ferrer and other Democrats to call for unity on behalf of Mark Green.

It was a difficult thing to do, Rivera said, because he was still angry about Green's negative TV commercial and the anti-Ferrer rhetoric contained in anonymous flyers and phone calls. "I think there had to be some coordination," he said. "But Mark Green told me he had nothing to do with it and I believe him."

Perception, however, can be more important than reality, and it would be a mistake to underestimate the hurt and anger Green's ads caused for many, Rivera included.

Rivera himself was once on the receiving end of similar, painful criticism. When he ran for president of 1199 in 1989, the union was racked with internal dissension. His two opponents were African American women, both former presidents whose misadministration, according to Rivera and his supporters, had nearly destroyed the union. One of the opponents, Doris Turner, minced no words about what she believed was the basis of Rivera's candidacy. "Deep down underneath, it's a racist struggle," she told the newspapers.

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