Democratic State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. (not to be confused with Ruben Diaz, Jr.) is one of the most socially-conservative New York Democrats around. An ordained Minister of the Church of God, Diaz protested last month at the Governor’s (court-mandated) order to supply women’s underwear to transgendered prisoners who wanted it. He said then that “many people might vote against the Democratic Party” because of it.
Diaz is less concerned about that now: according to the New York Sun, Diaz is letting it be known that he may switch parties in time for the next election — though, for the time being, he’ll be content to run on both the Democratic and Republican lines.
Bronx Republican leader Jay Savino is tickled to have him — after all, Diaz won his last election 30,184 to 2,453. (His opponent, by the way, ran on both the Republican and Conservative lines.) “We were honored that he came in for a candidate screening and were happy to cross-endorse him,” said Savino.
“Mr. Diaz’s colleagues say his threat is merely a bid for attention,” reports the Sun. Probably — but he’s not making it because he’s lonely: the Republicans have a two-seat majority in the State Senate. If the November election leaves the Senate looking anything like a deadlock, a bi-partisan or even (maybe especially) a Republican Diaz would be wonderfully well-positioned to make deals and demands. As a loyal conservative Democrat, he’s an inconsequential, outnumbered oddity; as a possible apostate, he’s someone other Democrats can never take for granted. As West Bronx Blog spells it out: “Looks like he’s trying to pull a Lieberman.”
The Sun article mentions a drawback: Diaz’s son, Ruben Jr., is running for Bronx Borough President in 2009, and “observers” suggest that if Ruben Sr. ticks them off by switching parties, they’ll punish Ruben Jr. come primary time. But to whom are legislators more likely to bow: a politician who cedes power just to gain affection for his son, or one who kicks ass? The examples of political families from the Caesars to the Clintons suggest that the best daddy is one of whom all the other daddies are scared.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 15, 2008