While most headlines about New York's 13th Congressional district race are crowded by incumbent Charlie Rangel and State Senator Adriano Espaillat, three more candidates are reminding voters that they are on June 26 ballot.
Candidates Clyde Williams, Joyce Johnson and Craig Schley have shared the stage and the camera with Rangel and Espaillat multiple times. While the race's narrative has been focused on the district's presumed demographic divide between the historically black population and a burgeoning Latino community, none of them buy it.
"That's fine if they want to do so," Williams told WNYC. "From my vantage point, we look at this race and we know it's a three-person race."
Williams appears to be the first candidate for the Congressional seat to poll the district since 2004, which he said showed that 70 percent the district was ready for change. A former aide to Presidents Obama and Clinton, Williams touts himself the only candidate besides the incumbent who has worked in Washington D.C.
"I like the Congressman," he said. "But I do think its time for a new direction, new leadership and new ideas to solve these decades-old problems."
Chief among those problems, Williams argued, was the lack of jobs, a struggling public education system and gun control.
While Williams managed to outraise both Rangel and Espaillat, he doesn't have their institutional support. Nonetheless, he did manage to score two major endorsements. Both the New York Daily News and the New York Times have endorsed his campaign and called him a strong primary challenger to Rangel.
But Williams isn't the only one in the race to know the joys of a Times endorsement.
This year's race marks Joyce Johnson's second attempt to a Congressional seat and fourth try for elected office. The Times endorsed Johnson's 2010 candidacy and recognized her work as the New York State Field Director for the 2008 Obama campaign.
While the presumed frontrunners are battered with questions about the district's racial and ethnic divide, Johnson has positioned herself to be an equally landmark candidate for the neighborhood in light of recent debates in Washington about gender equality.
"I'm the only woman in this race at a time when I'm sorry to the say that the Republicans have done Democratic women a great disservice," Johnson said.
She would be the first female Congressional delegate for the district and would be the latest in her family's legacies of firsts. Her father was the first black councilman for Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and her mom was its first black teacher.
"That has absolutely shaped who I am," Johnson said. "My mind's eye is all about my parents and watching them as young African Americans parents from the South who came to the North to seek their fortunes."
If she gets to D.C., the former Seagram's executive said that she wants to help other find their own fortunes. Equal pay for women and comprehensive immigration reform top out her list of legislative priorities.
Like Johnson, Craig Schley has challenged Rangel twice over. The former Rangel intern and male model first ran against the incumbent in 2008 after years as a local activist in Harlem. Unlike his fellow candidates, he was the only one who had to
Like Johnson, Craig Schley has challenged Rangel twice over. The former Rangel intern and male model first ran against the incumbent in 2008 after years as a local activist in Harlem. Unlike his fellow candidates, he was the only one who had to defend his candidacy in court this year.
Schley counts on his experience on local rezoning issues and support for local business development as boosters for a turn in Congress. He also makes the case that he is the the only candidate to get bipartisan support, which he said would help in a Republican-controlled House.
"I am a Democrat, always was and always will be," Schley wrote in a letter to supporters announcing the endorsement. "But I fight every day to represent everyone in this district - Democrats, Independent and Republicans - a job the other candidates are not willing to do."