Ritchie Torres May Become the First Openly Gay Afro-Latino in U.S. Congress
The councilman currently has the lead over Rubén Díaz Sr., a socially conservative Democrat who has made homophobic statements in the past.
New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres took an early lead Tuesday night in the primary for New York's 15th Congressional District, and if he goes on to win the general election in November, he would become the first openly gay Afro-Latino member in Congress. As of Wednesday afternoon, Torres leads with 30.5 percent of the votes counted so far. Because of the large number of still-uncounted absentee ballots, Torres isn't declaring victory yet, but it's unlikely his opponents can make up the difference.
“I’m not prepared to declare victory until every vote is counted,” Torres said in an interview with local news channel NY1. “But even if I win the election, it’s governing that matters. It’s delivering results for the everyday people of the South Bronx.”
“It would be the honor of my life to represent this borough. It’s my home," he continued, seeming to tear up. "I would not be here today if it were not for my mother. The South Bronx is full of mothers like mine who have suffered and struggled and sacrificed so that her baby boy could have a better life than she did.”
Final results will not arrive till early July, as many New Yorkers opted for absentee ballots to avoid crowds at the polls in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Under state law, the Board of Elections will not begin to tally absentee ballots for another week. With more than 750,000 New Yorkers requesting absentee ballots, that could take a while.
Torres, who grew up in the Bronx in a Puerto Rican and Black household, ran against Rúben Díaz Sr. and Michael Blake, among others. Formerly a New York state senator, Díaz Sr. is a city councilman known for having socially conservative views despite his affiliation with the Democratic Party. Last year, he refused to resign his position after he was reprimanded for saying the city council was "controlled by the homosexual community." He is also anti-abortion and has suggested he will vote for Donald Trump for president.
If Torres wins the primary, he will face Republican candidate Orlando Molina on November 3.