The Latino Victory Fund endorsed a candidate Friday in a newly drawn New York House district where 12 Democrats are fighting for a wide-open nomination.
The group’s endorsement of New York City Council member Carlina Rivera comes two days after the race’s first televised debate drew blood among its six participants, but no knockout punches.
Rivera, who is considered among the favorites in a race that includes incumbent Rep. Mondaire Jones (D) and former Rep. Liz Holtzman (D), has already been endorsed by two top New York City Hispanic politicians, Democratic Reps. Adriano Espaillat and Nydia Velázquez.
“Carlina is a dedicated advocate and an experienced public servant who has worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life of her community. She’s an effective, no-nonsense legislator with a proven track record as a city council member and the grit to get things done in Washington,” said Latino Victory Fund President and CEO Nathalie Rayes in a statement.
A recent Data for Progress poll of the district’s voters showed Rivera in the lead, albeit with the support of only 17 percent of surveyed voters, leading Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou by only 3 percentage points, less than the poll’s 4 percentage point margin of error.
The wild primary race claimed a high-profile victim shortly after that poll came out, as former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped out with sagging numbers.
New York’s primary election day is Aug. 23.
The wide field has turned the race into a slugfest of endorsements, with Democratic groups and elected officials spreading support across the array of candidates.
In backing Rivera, Latino Victory joins Espaillat and Velázquez, as well as a half-dozen labor groups and environmental, LGBT rights, Latino and animal welfare organizations.
Rivera’s signature projects have centered around homelessness and climate resiliency infrastructure, an issue that her debate opponents tried to turn against her.
In Wednesday’s debate, Rivera’s opponents called out her support of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project, a plan to raise some Manhattan coastlines by up to eight feet, arguing Rivera pushed the project through without sufficient community engagement.
But Rivera retorted that her opponents were new to the district, saying the project was necessary and required “political courage” to push through.
Rivera’s candidacy is also a boon for Hispanic progressives, who are looking to grow Hispanic representation in Congress in a complicated national election year.
“This newly drawn congressional seat presents a prime opportunity to increase Latino representation in Congress and strengthen the Latina delegation in the U.S. House, which remains severely underrepresented,” said Rayes.
This story was updated at 2:46 p.m.