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San Juan, Puerto Rico

November 15, 2011 by staff 

San Juan, Puerto Rico, For a few days every November, the place for New York State politicians to see and be seen is not Angelo’s 677 Prime in Albany or the Regency Hotel in Manhattan, but a resort hotel in the Caribbean.

The New York State Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force has held an annual conference here for 24 years, attracting lawmakers, lobbyists and labor leaders with 85-degree weather, pristine beaches, and unparalleled networking opportunities.

Officially a chance to discuss issues of concern to Puerto Rican and Hispanic voters, the conference, known as Somos el Futuro, is unofficially a giant schmooze-fest, a place to foster relationships and broker deals by the pool, on the beach or in the casino.

This year’s conference, which took place from Thursday to Sunday, featured workshops on housing and health care and an appearance by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. But as usual, the real news of the conference was not policy but politics.

At a reception Thursday night in a room overlooking the ocean, José Peralta, a state senator who is a possible contender for Queens borough president, mingled over mojitos and fried snacks with guests who included Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn borough president, and his wife, Jamie Snow. Robert Jackson, a New York City councilman, stood in a corner, his head bobbing to the music, and said he came to the conference because he is running for Manhattan borough president, which he then demonstrated by running vigorously in place.

Mark Weprin, a councilman who is widely expected to run for City Council speaker when the post is vacated by Christine C. Quinn, dined with his brother, Assemblyman David I. Weprin, who said that if the Occupy Wall Street movement had begun earlier, he might have won his race for Congress in September.

Joseph A. Wiscovitch, a political consultant who has helped politicians attract Hispanic votes, stopped by the Weprin table to offer an expletive-laced diatribe about former Mayor Edward I. Koch’s endorsement of David Weprin’s Republican vanquisher, Bob Turner.

On Thursday night, Vito J. Lopez, an assemblyman and the Brooklyn Democratic county leader, held court at the blackjack table in an untucked white polo shirt, rapt in concentration.

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