The Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club and the political arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have both thrown their support behind out gay City Councilmember Ritchie Torres in his race for Congress, giving the 31-year-old lawmaker key boosts with roughly six months to go until the Democratic primary competition to succeed outgoing Bronx Representative José Serrano in the 15th district.
Torres secured the support of Jim Owles just weeks after members of another citywide LGBTQ political group, the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, backed him. The endorsement of the 38-member Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ Bold PAC — first reported by Buzzfeed — represents influential support for the 31-year-old in a congressional district that is 63 percent Latinx, according to Serrano’s official House of Representatives web page.
If elected, Torres would become the first out gay Afro-Latinx member of Congress and the first out gay member of the New York City congressional delegation. (Sean Patrick Maloney, an out gay Democrat first elected in 2012, represents an upstate Hudson Valley district.)
Jim Owles also endorsed Bronx and Queens Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her re-election campaign and Jamaal Bowman, a Bronx middle school principal challenging incumbent Representative Eliot Engel in the 16th Congressional District encompassing the northern Bronx and Westchester County.
The club offered high praise for Torres, saying he has “proven to be one of the most effective and respected members of the City Council,” while also raising a sense of urgency in that race over the candidacy of notoriously anti-LGBTQ and misogynistic Bronx Councilmember Ruben Diaz, Sr. In response to the endorsement, Torres used the opportunity to tear into Diaz’s candidacy and blast him for inviting Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas to the Bronx in 2015.
“Diaz, Sr., is a Trump Republican running in the wrong primary and it is time to end his political career,” Torres said in a written statement. “I represent the best opportunity to defeat Reverend Diaz, Sr., and ensure that the 15th Congressional District remains the most Democratic district in America. I’m running to fight for equality for all and to fight for Bronx residents who for too long have not had a seat at the table.”
The club’s endorsement of Torres was far less dramatic than Stonewall’s contentious endorsement meeting on October 23 when Torres addressed questions about his decision to take real estate money and attacked one of his other opponents, former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, for presiding over gentrification during her time leading the city’s lawmaking body.
Torres, who raised by far the most money in that race through the first two filings, is expected to see even more funds flow in from the Hispanic Caucus’ BOLD PAC. He first started receiving PAC support over the summer when the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus endorsed him and subsequently pumped $5,000 into his war chest in each of the first two filings. Notably, one of his opponents, Assemblymember and Democratic National Committee Vice Chair Michael Blake, has the endorsement and financial support of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Torres pulled in $335,089 during the filing period between July 1 and September 30, after raising $522,000 in his first filing. Along with Diaz, Mark-Viverito, and Blake, Torres is also facing competition from candidates including Manhattan Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez and Tomas Ramos.