New York City

City Councilman Fernando Cabrera is challenging AOC

The centrist Bronx pastor is running in the Democratic primary.

New York City Councilman Fernando Cabrera.

New York City Councilman Fernando Cabrera. Misael Campos

A City Councilman from the Bronx and Christian pastor, who’s no stranger to controversy for his anti-gay views, is running for Congress in a district where he doesn’t even live. No, not Ruben Diaz Sr. – well, not only Diaz Sr., who is running to replace retiring Rep. Jose Serrano: As of Thursday, Fernando Cabrera is launching a longshot bid against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the 2020 Democratic primary. 

“I’m a centrist. She’s a socialist,” Cabrera told City & State, referring to Ocasio-Cortez’s support for economic redistribution and her membership in the Democratic Socialists of America. “And whatever adjectives she wants to put in front of the word socialist, she’s a socialist.”

Cabrera, who was born in New York and is of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, said he has family in Venezuela, so he has “seen firsthand what effects socialism has on a nation” – a conservative talking point meant to connect Ocasio-Cortez’s politics to the South American nation’s authoritarian regime. 

Ocasio-Cortez has been a top target for the GOP – and in fact has more than a half-dozen Republicans lining up to challenge her. But Cabrera, who was a registered Republican until 2008, insisted that he’s not playing into Republican hands with his run.

“Actually it’s the opposite!” He contended that because of Ocasio-Cortez and other left-wing freshmen in Congress, Democrats have been branded as socialists. “It literally will cost us, potentially, the (presidential) election,” Cabrera argued. “I want to be part of that solution to take that argument away from President Trump.”

After a youth spent in New York, Puerto Rico, California and Virginia, Cabrera moved to the Bronx at age 25 to start a church. The 55-year-old grandfather of five and father of two is the senior pastor of the non-denominational New Life Outreach International Church in the North Bronx. He was first elected to the City Council in 2009 and lives in the neighborhood of Fordham – more than a mile outside the closest point of the 14th Congressional District, which spans the East Bronx and western Queens and which he hopes to represent.

Cabrera said he used to live in the district, in Throggs Neck, but that’s beside the point. “I’ve done more for the Bronx and Queens than (Ocasio-Cortez) ever has. I’ve visited all the community boards,” he said, pointing to a budget boost for community boards that he shepherded through this year as chairman of the City Council’s Governmental Operations Committee. 

Whatever Cabrera says about Ocasio-Cortez, he may have some of his own liabilities in a Democratic primary. Though he’s been less outspoken than his notoriously controversial colleague Diaz Sr., the socially conservative Cabrera has been criticized for aligning himself with an anti-gay group and for publicly praising the anti-gay government of Uganda. The New York Post reports that Cabrera personally opposes same sex marriage and abortion, but accepts the laws of the land. And while Ocasio-Cortez thinks billionaires shouldn’t exist, Cabrera has preached the so-called “Prosperity Gospel” that is prevalent among conservate Evangelical Christians, saying that “it’s harder being rich than being poor.”

Cabrera said he better represents the working class in the district, and he thinks he may get some support from elected officials, even though Ocasio-Cortez is the incumbent. The Congressional delegation has a “disdain towards her,” he said, because “she’s not a team player. … Teamwork makes the dream work.”

The Ocasio-Cortez campaign did not respond to a request for comment, but the Bronx Democratic Party did not exactly give a ringing endorsement when contacted by City & State. “By and large, The Bronx Democratic Party has been inclined to endorse incumbents, and we expect to take the same approach in this district as it relates to Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez,” said Bronx Democrats’ spokeswoman Geraldine Estevez.

Ocasio-Cortez may have a rocky relationship with the Bronx party establishment, but she also inspires serious devotion among her fans and is fairly popular in her district. An April 2019 Siena College poll found that 61% of Democrats in NY-14 said they would re-elect her. 

Jake Sporn, political strategist at Tusk Strategies who has lived and worked in the Bronx, sees Cabrera’s bid as more of an exercise in raising his profile. “For all the Republicans hopelessly trying to oust her in the general election, it’s not a shock that a conservative Democrat would want to challenge her on the right too,” he said. “I’d imagine he’ll end up as a fixture on Fox News and as a critic in some other national stories, but any challenge against AOC is a long shot bid.”

Cabrera didn’t deny he was looking for some time on cable news networks. “I’ll go wherever I can get my message out,” he said. “I want to be on CNN, Fox.”

NEXT STORY: Photos: 2019 Rebuilding NY Summit

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.