It's been less than six months since Melissa Mark-Viverito finished a distant third place in the special election for Public Advocate.

Now, the former City Council Speaker is taking another stab at winning public office, jumping into the race to replace Bronx Rep. José Serrano, who will retire in 2020 after almost 30 years in office.

Mark-Viverito announced her candidacy for the 15th Congressional District on Wednesday, though the Democrat spent the day in El Paso, site of last weekend's mass shooting, where she tweeted photos from a unity rally. Mark-Viverito was in El Paso in her current capacity as interim president of the Latino Victory Fund, which seeks to help elect Latino candidates.

Mark-Viverito will be the sixth Democrat to mount a campaign for Serrano's seat.

Mark-Viverito's campaign is highlighting progressive reforms she won during her four years as speaker in areas like criminal justice and immigration.

One of Mark-Viverito's chief rivals in the race is Bronx Councilman Ritchie Torres, who doesn't sound like someone who sees her as much of a threat:

"If you take an objective view, the fact is there are two front-runners," Torres said.

Torres says that's him and fellow Bronx Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. Though he's been widely condemned for his anti-gay views, Diaz enjoys widespread name recognition. Before joining the council, he spent 15 years in the state Senate.

Another early entrant to the race was State Assemblyman Michael Blake, who also ran for Public Advocate. Both he and Torres touted their Bronx credentials; Mark-Viverito lives in East Harlem, outside the district, though she did represent parts of the district as a council member. Congressional representatives are not required to live in the districts that they represent.

"I think I'm the only elected in the race that is born, raised, and currently lives in the actual congressional district," Blake said. "I think that sends a message."

"The South Bronx should be represented by a true Bronxite who has lived the struggles of working people. Period," Torres said.

Mark-Viverito first announced her candidacy in an interview with



Looking for an easy way to learn about the issues affecting New York City?

Listen to our "Off Topic/On Politics" podcast: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | iHeartRadio | Stitcher | RSS