11:48 am Nov. 14, 2012
A big part of the electoral calculus behind Adolfo Carrion's party-crossing run for mayor involves overcoming the city's inherent Democratic advantage by attracting Latino voters to the Republican line.
It would be an unprecedented accomplishment, according to Luis Miranda, a Democratic consultant to Bill Thompson and a walking encyclopedia of northern Manhattan and Latino politics in New York.
"I can't think of an instance where an African-American or Latino switched parties and has gotten a large chunk of the vote," Miranda told me yesterday.
"The last time someone tried this, was Herman Badillo, but he didn't go past the primary," said Miranda.
To be fair, Badillo faced an unusual obstacle, in the form of another Democrat-turned-Republican, Michael Bloomberg, and Bloomberg's considerable resources. Badillo did not return a message left at his office yesterday.
Carrion's run comes as national Republicans are trying to expand the party's base to include more Latino voters.
Miranda, in an interview, said he could only recall one other Hispanic lawmaker in New York who switched parties and tried winning an election on the Republican Party line: Olga Mendez, who left the Democratic Party in 2002 and sought re-election to the state senate as a Republican. She lost a re-election bid in 2004.
"She couldn't do it, and she was a popular incumbent who was there for a long, long time," Miranda said.
Mendez was more than just an incumbent.
She was the first Puerto Rican woman elected to a state legislature in the United States, and represented parts of the Bronx and Manhattan in the New York State Senate for 26 years. When she died, numerous Democrats released statements touting her life's work and career. Rep. Charlie Rangel, who has criticized Carrion's switch, even praised her defection from the Democratic Party, saying, "The fact that she was willing to risk her standing late in her political career to switch parties was just another example of her willingness to do anything for her constituents."
As for Carrion, rather than upending the calculations he and other consultants are making, Miranda said he "is out of the Democratic equation."