Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics including the 2013 mayoral race and transition.
A Rematch for Historic Uptown Seat
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Rep. Charles Rangel has a three-way primary fight on his hands in his bid for a 23rd term.
The Harlem Democrat will face State Senator Adriano Espaillat for a second time. Rangel, who announced in his re-election plans in December, narrowly beat Espaillat two years ago.
Rangel represents the 13th congressional district, covering northern Manhattan and parts of the Bronx.
At a kick-off event in Washington Heights Thursday, Espaillat said he plans to hit the campaign trail even harder this time around. When the June 25 primary comes around, he said, "I will be 20 pounds lighter and I will have gone through three pairs of shoes."
The race pits a rising star of Latino politics against one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Espaillat said his campaign is about issues like healthcare access and affordable housing.
"They're not Dominican issues, they're not Puerto Rican issues, they're not black or white or Asian issues. They impact the entire district," he said.
He has already picked up one major endorsement, from Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito. She backed Rangel in 2012.
Both Mark-Viverito and Mayor Bill de Blasio were scheduled to attend a Dominican Heritage event organized by Espaillat in Washington Heights Thursday night. A spokeswoman for the mayor said he has not yet made an endorsement in the race.
A third candidate — the Rev. Michael A. Walrond, Jr., an ally of the Rev. Al Sharpton — announced his bid last month. Walrond was a member of de Blasio's Transition Committee.
Rangel, 83, was in Washington D.C. Thursday afternoon — at the White House with President Barack Obama to launch a new initiative aimed at lifting up young men of color.
A spokesman for the Rangel campaign says the incumbent has "a proven record and is the clear choice."