The main challenger to scandal-tarred Bronxchester Senator Pedro Espada Jr. has gotten a big boost. Gustavo Rivera's campaign to unseat Espada has been threatened by another challenger, Daniel Padernacht, a lawyer and member of a Bronx community board who had previously refused calls for him to drop out of the race. On Sunday, Padernacht dropped out, conceding that a three-way race would split the anti-Espada vote in next week's primary.

"I’m basically going to put all my support behind Gustavo right now so we can join forces as Democrats and try to knock Espada out," Padernacht tells the Times. "We didn’t want to take the risk of Espada getting back into office." Padernacht’s name will still appear on the ballot, but he plans to spend the next week campaigning for Rivera.

Bill Samuels, a technology entrepreneur and Democratic big shot, has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to unseat Espada and replace the embattled senator with Rivera. Samuels funds the New Roosevelt Initiative, whose mission is "to raise money independent of the legislative committees to aid insurgent candidates who will reform Albany." A poll funded by Samuels shows Rivera and Espada tied, with each receiving 32 percent, with a margin of error plus or minus 4.8 percent.