by Jose Leyva
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. was nowhere to be seen on election day. He voted quietly before 6:30 a.m. at P.S. 93 in Soundview.
Election workers and school employees at the voting site said Diaz arrived early and left quickly, as if in a rush.
“He was one of the first voters,” said Diane Jones, a Republican poll worker at the P.S. 93 election site. “He said he came early because he had to take one of his children to Catholic school.”
Then, instead of stumping for William Thompson, the Democratic mayoral candidate he had endorsed early in the race, Diaz slipped from view.
One of his only campaign statements appeared on his Facebook page on the eve of the election: “Don’t forget to vote for me, Billy Thompson and the democratic ticket! On Tues. Nov. 3rd from 6am-9pm!!!!! Bring a friend!!!!!”
The former city comptroller, Thompson, had to wait until 10:30 that evening to hear from Diaz at his election party at the Hilton Hotel Towers in mid-town Manhattan. By that point, Diaz had himself won re-election as borough president by a 73 percent margin, and early results pointed to an expected defeat to incumbent Mayor Michael Bloomberg by an unexpectedly close margin for Thompson in his bid for mayor.
In his three-minute speech last night, an excited Diaz said change was needed in City Hall.
“The Bronx needs a friend,” said Diaz. “Millionaire corporations are getting all the money, they are getting all the profits, and they are not doing business for the people. They are not paying wages, they are not giving benefits to the workers.”
Once on the podium, Diaz triggered some of the most excited applause of the evening. He talked about the Yankees’ domination in the World Series, the economic inequity of the city’s residents, and Bloomberg’s indifference to the Bronx.
“There are thousands of Democrats who understood that to be a true Democrat, we had to reach out and help our brothers and sisters out. We together never ever sold out,” said Diaz, to a cheering crowd of about 300 people.
Several Bronx Democrats expressed support for Ruben Diaz, Jr.’s next bid for borough president, but were skeptical about changes in quality of life under another Bloomberg term.
Inspite of the borough president’s absence on election day, Bronx voters went for Thompson on election day by a greater margin than any other borough (61 percent for Thompson, 37 percent for Bloomberg). Unofficial results pointed to a 51 percent Bloomberg win citywide, to 46 percent of the vote for Thompson.
“I think Rubencito is trying, and I have to give him credit for that. But he needs more help, and I think that with Bill Thompson in office, a change might occur,” said Beverly Dumpheys, a 34-year-old social worker living in Grand Concourse, earlier in the day.
When asked at the Hilton party about a continuing relationship with Mayor Bloomberg, Diaz said, “I don’ want to think about that.”
Diaz was set to fly to Puerto Rico the morning after the election to moderate a workshop on economic development at a five-day Hispanic legislative conference, called Somos el Futoro (We are the Future), according to his communications director, John Desio.