Today’s news:

Close showing against Rangel gives him a future

Loser Espaillat could still be a winner

Bronx Times

THE WINNER

With a thisclose loss to Charlie Rangel, a fast scramble to keep his Upper Manhattan/west Bronx senate seat, and some heavy duty fence mending, Adriano Espaillat could become the 500-kilo Chupacabra of Latino politics.

His strong showing in the race for the now heavily Latino 13th Congressional District - with a chunk of the west Bronx added - puts him ahead of the pack for the seat in 2014.

That includes Harlem assemblyman and Manhattan Dem Party boss Keith Wright who reportedly thinks Charlie is keeping the seat warm for him.

Not that Espaillat doesn’t have a lotta fence mending to do with some Latino political leaders who grudgingly got behind him.

“He pissed off a lot of people in some circles during this race,” said one political pro (no name, please) who worked for Rangel. “There are banana peels all over the floor. But he’s a talented and skilled guy.”

Naysayers might argue Espaillat pulled heavy numbers from voters tired of the 82-year-old, ethically-challenged Rangel.

But if fellow Latino electeds can stop brawling among themselves (i.e. potential Senate seat challenger Inwood assemblyman Guillermo Linares), they just might find themselves una fuerza to be reckoned with by both Bronx Dem Boss Carl Heastie and Manhattan Boss Wright, who now share the political reins in the redistricted 13th.

That includes Espaillat’s Bronx supporters: senator Gustavo Rivera, assemblymen Nelson Castro and councilman Fernando Cabrera.

Doug Muzzio, savvy urban politics professor at Baruch College, agrees Espaillat’s vote count “clearly makes him a significant player.”

“ But if he’s going to be a power broker or power center, he’s now got to win reelection to his state Senate seat.”

EARLY BIRDS

Looks like absentee Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera and challenger Mark Gjonaj won’t have to waste their money on election lawyers challenging nominating petitions.

With a minimum of 500 required to qualify for the ballot line, Gjonaj filed 4,224 signatures at the city Board of Elections on Monday, July 9, a week ahead of the July 15 filing deadline, while Snooki filed 3,525.

Gjonaj (Joe-nigh) said he polled highest along Mosholu Parkway (1,400), then Pelham Parkway, then Morris Park.

As one political insider put it, “This one’s going to be a street fight.”

TOP SECRET

And speaking of which....

Okay, so not exactly the Pentagon Papers, but someone from the Gjonaj campaign team slipped us this internal memo on its Snooki battle plan:

“This will be the easiest message for us to convey. On its face, Mark appears as a hard worker and everything in his personal history supports this. Naomi is the complete opposite. Everyone knows she was handed the job and did not work hard to get it. Everything in her personal history supports that message. Her absentee rate and her lack of real legislative record will only accentuate this as a problem for her.”

Let the games begin....

FILM FAMILY

Now that Bronxite Dawn Sandow, acting head of the city Board of Elections, is done counting Rangel-Espaillat votes, we hope she enjoys the premier of actor/director brother Nick’s movie Ponies tomorrow (July13) at Cinema Village in lower Manhattan.

A lot of the flick, about gambling fever and other issues was shot locally in Morris Park, including a phony OTB parlor set up on Morris Park Avenue.

To catch a preview of the flick, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mfb6wiGSK08.

UH, NELSON...

Morris Heights assemblyman Nelson Castro needs a civics lesson.

He praised “U.S. Supreme Court” Judge Loretta Preska in a press release for ruling churches CAN rent empty school space.

Hey Nelson, it’s “Chief Judge of the U.S. DISTRICT Court.”

SOME KRUST

Jamaican Consulate tossing a reception Tuesday for Golden Krust bakery co-founder Lowell Hawthorne, for his new rags-to-riches autobiog on the Bronx-based firm, now the largest Caribbean franchiser in the United States.

ADIOS YOMO

Bronx musical treasure Yomo Toro, master of the 10-string cuatro, the traditional instrument of Puerto Rican folk music, died June 30 at age 78.

We remember ex-Bronx Boro Prez Freddy Ferrer telling us years back running into Yomo walking his Chihauhau near the County Building - “We starting talking and the dog peed on my leg!”

PASSINGS

Former Patrol Boro Bronx exec officer Frank Biehler at age 77.

Frank retired after 41 years on the job, having previously run public morals and narcotics.

He was both a gentleman and a talented leader for the bosses, the public and the cops.

I used to love his welcoming talk at Fordham to rookies newly assigned to the Bronx, telling them “you just got a second family and a million dollar job.” R.I.P. friend.

BRONX BIRTHDAYS

•State senator Jeff Klein, on Tuesday, July 10, celebrated with a $1,500-a-head steak and lobster birthday fundraiser at Yankee Stadium.

•Ex-state Senator Israel “Izzy” Ruiz, also July 10. We wish Izzy would overcome his shyness and say what’s really on his mind....

Got some hot gossip? E-mail Kappy at bkappstatter@cnglocal.com.

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