The return of the Hispanic citywide candidate(s) in New York

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In 2009, not a single Hispanic candidate ran for any citywide office. Next year, there could be two, and not just in the Democratic primaries.

One of the potential candidates is Adolfo Carrion Jr., the former borough president and director of Urban Affairs for President Obama, who announced this week he may run for mayor, as an independent and Republican.

The other is Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., a Democrat, whose spokesman confirmed to me this week that his boss is still considering a run for Public Advocate.

The last Hispanic to run for citywide office was Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx Borough President who ran for mayor in 2005 (not counting this guy).

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"It will always take a little while for the next generation of leadership," said political consultant Luis Miranda. "We do have a lot of leadership in other levels of government."

Compared to Carrion and Diaz, the 62-year-old Ferrer represents an older generation of politicians. He was borough president from 1987 to 2001, when the Bronx recovered from its horrible collapse, while next year's potential candidates were barely old enough to remember its depths. In 1977, when Howard Cosell famously (but apocryphally) anounced that the "the Bronx is burning" during a Yankees game, Carrion was 16 years old, and Diaz was only 4. Ferrer was 27 then, and within five years, he was elected to the City Council.

The fact that two Hispanic candidates may run citywide next year, Miranda said, was a sign of how far they have come, politically.

"I remember at the local level you couldn't have two Hispanics running because they would split the vote," he said. "We were always trying to convince someone not to run."

"Now," he said, "you have two Hispanics running against each other all the time."

Miranda, who advised Ferrer and is now working for mayoral candidate Bill Thompson, said having Carrion run on the Republican line didn't really indicate much about the political diversity of Hispanics, since Carrion wasn't "groomed" in that party.

Miranda predicted New York City will only see more Hispanic candidates running for local and citywide offices in the future.

According to U.S. News and World Reports, out of 8.3 million residents in New York City, 2.27 million, or 27.4 percent are Hispanic, the largest Hispanic population of any city in America.