The deep-blue Bronx will likely get a bit redder if Republican X-ray technician Kristy Marmorato holds on to her lead over Democratic New York City Council Member Marjorie Velázquez in what would be the most surprising victory of election night.
Marmorato led Velázquez 52.46% to 46.81% as of 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday with 98.33% of the scanners reported, but the race had not been officially called. Marmorato could become the first Republican to serve as an elected official from the Bronx since state Sen. Guy Velella resigned in 2004.
“They wanted a change and they got a change,” Marmorato told NY1.
According to the preliminary election district results from Steven Romalewski of the Center for Urban Research at the CUNY Graduate Center, Velázquez lost heavily in the Throggs Neck part of the district where the Bruckner Boulevard rezoning last year played such a big role in this race. Velázquez’s eventual decision to support the controversial housing development – after previously opposing it – angered some in the community even as it won her support from organized labor.
And backing from the New York City District Council of Carpenters and other labor unions likely won’t be enough to save Velázquez from defeat after one term in the City Council. The Brooklyn Democratic Party held a day of action for Velázquez on Nov. 5, and New York City Council Member Erik Bottcher posted photos on Nov. 4 of him and Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine handing out flyers on her behalf in the Bronx. Velázquez’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Marjorie is one of my closest friends in the council. She would be a real loss to the body. Just a commonsense Democrat,” City Council Member Justin Brannan said. “I understand if you feel compelled to vote for someone because you agree with them on 10 out of 10 things. But you really need someone who’s going to deliver for the district.”
Marmorato’s likely victory would hand Republicans another seat in the City Council, although it won’t grow the party’s overall numbers as Republican Ari Kagan lost to Democrat Justin Brannan in southern Brooklyn. And the enthusiastic reactions from fellow Republicans came rolling in on Tuesday night.
“Allow me to introduce our newest GOP council member, @KristyforNY!!!!” City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli wrote on X.
“Congratulations to Kristy Marmorato. While we did not pick up another seat in Brooklyn, we did take one in AOC’s backyard in the Bronx. I was happy to endorse @KristyforNY and look forward to working with her,” Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis posted on X.
“Congratulations to Kristy Marmorato on winning and picking up a GOP city council seat tonight #NYC,” former Gov. George Pataki posted on X.
The final week of the campaign became more contentious at their BronxNet debate on Oct. 31. Velázquez criticized Marmorato’s deep political connections, even though she had never run for office before, since her brother is Bronx Republican Party Chair Michael Rendino and her husband, Gino Marmorato, is the Bronx GOP commissioner for the New York City Board of Elections. When Velázquez pointed that out in their debate, Marmorato said, “How dare you! You are such a snake.”
Council District 13, which stretches from Pelham Bay Park to Throggs Neck in the northeast Bronx, is home to more registered Democrats than Republicans. The moderate district stayed relatively the same through redistricting. Velázquez won with 56% of the vote just two years ago in the same election that Republican mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa defeated Democrat Eric Adams in this district 48.5% to 47.4%. The district also voted handily against Donald Trump during the 2020 election – a fact Velázquez’s campaign had tried to capitalize on by highlighting Marmorato’s ties to several of the former president’s prominent supporters.
“Such a bad outcome for Dems, and the lesson isn’t ‘be more moderate,’ it’s stand principled in your values, engage constituents even when their instinct is to hate you for a position you take, and fight your ass off,” former state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi wrote on X.
– with reporting from Annie McDonough