Herman Badillo is a Bronx, New York politician who has been a borough president, United States Representative, and candidate for Mayor of New York City. He was the first Puerto Rican to be elected to these posts (and run for mayor) in the United States (outside of Puerto Rico).
When Mr. Badillo was 11 years old, both of his parents died of tuberculosis and he was sent to live with his aunt in New York City. After graduating from the public school system, Mr. Badillo attended and earned a Bachelor's degree from the City College of New York in 1951. In 1954, he received an LLB. from Brooklyn Law School, graduating first in his class. The following year he was admitted to the New York State Bar. In 1956, he also became a certified public accountant.
Early Political Career
In 1958, Mr. Badillo joined the "Caribe Democratic Club" and has since then held various offices within the city and state, including Bronx Borough President in 1965. Prior to becoming the Borough President, he served as New York Commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development.
U.S. House of Representatives
In 1970, Mr. Badillo was elected to the United States House of Representatives from New York's 21st District in the South Bronx, thus becoming the first Puerto Rican to so serve. He was also reelected for three subsequent consecutive terms. He also gained a seat on the Committee on Education and Labor.
In 1976 he was challenged by South Bronx Councilman Ramon Velez in a bitter race for the Democratic Party nomination for Congressman of the 21st District. Mr. Badillo, however, was easily reelected with 75 percent of the vote. In December of that year, he was one of the five Latino members of Congress who established the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Through his efforts, job training for unemployed non-English speaking citizens were included in the Comprehensive Manpower Act of 1973. Mr. Badillo also served on the Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee and the Small Business Committee where he had a seat on the Minority Enterprise and General Oversight Sub-committee. During his time in office he supported legislation intended to fight various forms of discrimination including age and marital status discrimination in employment.
Although he would later become a vociferous opponent of bilingual education, as a congressman Mr. Badillo was one of the first champions of funding for bilingual education programs. Some proponents of bilingual and ESL education, and opponents of English immersion have attacked Mr. Badillo for his newfound opposition to Spanish-language teaching. He was also a critical player in the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act and the inclusion of its language access provisions. During his tenure in Congress, he became an important national voice for federal investment in urban centers.
He unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for mayor of New York in 1969, 1973, 1977, 1981 and 1985, coming closest on his second try, when he was defeated by then-New York City Comptroller Abe Beame in a runoff primary. In 2001, Mr. Badillo unsuccessfully sought the Republican mayoral nomination, losing badly to billionaire businessman and political neophyte Michael Bloomberg, who would go on to prevail in the general election.
Deputy Mayor of New York City
Mr. Badillo resigned from Congress on December 31, 1977 to become deputy mayor of New York City under Mayor Ed Koch, a position he held until September 1979. Mr. Badillo was one of seven deputy mayors appointed by Koch for the first portion of his administration. As a deputy mayor, Mr. Badillo handled labor relations and community outreach for Koch. In a major public disagreement with Mayor Koch over the lack of support for his program to revitalize the South Bronx.
Post-City Hall Career and State Comptroller Campaign
After leaving City Hall, Mr. Badillo worked as an attorney in New York City. In 1985, he considered a bid for mayor against Koch in the Democratic Primary. In 1986, Mr. Badillo was the Democratic nominee for New York State Comptroller, losing to Republican incumbent Edward Regan in the campain for City comptroller.
In 1993, Mr. Badillo, though still a Democrat, ran for comptroller of New York City on a "fusion" ticket with Republican Rudy Giuliani. He also sought the Democratic nomination, but finished third, behind Alan Hevesi and the incumbent Comptroller, Elizabeth Holtzman. In the general election, although Giuliani won the mayoralty, Mr. Badillo lost to Hevesi. In the general election, Mr. Badillo was the nominee of the Republican and Liberal Parties.
Giuliani Administration and CUNY Chairmanship
Mr. Badillo held a series of positions within the Giuliani administration, where he served as the mayor's Special Counsel on education policy and as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York.
In his capacity as Giuliani's education advisor, Mr. Badillo advocated increased Mayoral control of the public schools and a revamped curriculum; he was also Giuliani's liaison to the City's Board of Education. As CUNY chairman, Mr. Badillo led a successful effort to end open enrollment and revamp the curriculum. These actions gained him some support in conservative circles. He stepped down as education special counsel and CUNY chairman when he announced his candidacy for Mayor in 2001.
Republican Party Switch and 2001 Mayoral Campaign
In the late 1990s, Mr. Badillo formally joined the Republican Party and ran for mayor of New York City, losing the 2001 Republican primary to the eventual victor, Michael Bloomberg.
Milton Haynes, A Bill of No Rights: Attica and the American Prison System (New York: Outerbridge and Lazard, Inc., 1972);
Plain Talk: The Politics of Administration (Greenvale, N.Y.: Department of Health and Public Administration, C.W. Post Center, Long Island University, c1981); One Nation, One Standard: An Ex-Liberal on How Hispanics Can Succeed Just Like Other Immigrant Groups (Sentinel, 2007).
Mr. Badillo is dedicated to his law practice in New York and to select affordable housing development activities through both Badillo Partners and Quadriad Realty Partners, LLC, of which he is a principal. In 2005 he became "of counsel" to the New York City law firm of Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo P.C. In 2006 he joined the conservative Manhattan Institute of Policy Research as a senior fellow, and Quadriad as principal in the development of a new approach to market-financed mixed-income housing in New York City and the surrounding inner-ring of New York suburbs.
His first published book was written at age 77 and released on December 28, 2006, One Nation, One Standard: An Ex-Liberal on How Hispanics Can Succeed Just Like Other Immigrant Groups, generated major controversy within the Latino community before it was even published. In contrast to the support he gave to bilingual education early in his career, he attacks what he describes as obstacles to assimilation, such as bilingual education, and urges Hispanics to eschew government solutions and adopt instead the cultural values that have made previous generations of American immigrants prosperous and successful.