Gustavo Rivera Bails on Debate Tonight; Going to Event in East Bronx Instead

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The headline pretty much sums it up.

At 2:45 p.m., about four hours before he was scheduled to appear at a debate of 33rd Senate District candidates at Fordham Lutheran Church, Christopher Malone, the policy director for Gustavo Rivera's campaign, wrote us an e-mail to say Rivera would not be attending the debate.

Instead, Malone said Rivera would be attending a candidates' forum in the east Bronx, near Westchester Square, an event hosted by the Bronx branches of the NAACP.

Last week, Rivera's campaign said he would participate in the debate, organized by Transportation Alternatives at Fordham Lutheran Church, which the Bronx News Network will be moderating. On Monday night, Rivera participated in a debate with fellow candidate Dan Padernacht on the talk show, BronxTalk. Pedro Espada Jr., the incumbent in the 33rd Senate District, has refused to debate his fellow candidates.

Yesterday, Dan Levitan of the Working Families Party, which is working on Rivera's behalf, said he didn't think Rivera would attend tonight's debate, adding that he felt Padernacht was in the race to smear Rivera.

We reached out to Rivera's campaign yesterday – as did organizers for Transportation Alternatives – to see if, indeed, he would be backing out of his commitment. There was no response until Malone's e-mail