Ben Franklin Club endorses Espaillat
By Adam Wisnieski
The Ben Franklin Reform Democratic Club endorsed state Sen. Adriano Espaillat on Tuesday.
The endorsement, the most significant one so far for Mr. Espaillat from the Bronx, does not come as a big surprise. The club, which operates in the northwest Bronx, campaigned heavily for Mr. Espaillat when he ran for state Senate against Mark Levine in 2010 and was key in securing votes for Mr. Espaillat, especially in Riverdale. Mr. Espaillat credits the club with helping him win that race.
Still, there was some question over whether incumbent Rep. Charles Rangel’s efforts to curry the influential club’s favor would be successful — at least in getting it to abstain from an endorsement in the race.
He showed up at the Ben Franklin Club’s annual dinner on May 2 (where he jokingly tapped Mr. Espaillat on the chin with his fist) and again asked for the club’s support on Tuesday.
“I come here to ask for support. I did not know it would be a serious campaign,” Mr. Rangel said.
He also said he realized Mr. Espaillat was the club’s “favorite son,” but that they should consider him because he is better qualified.
“You’re not taking a chance with me. I’ve been there,” he said.
Mr. Rangel has not had trouble getting support from the Bronx. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., state Sen. Jose M. Serrano, Assemblyman Carl Heastie and Rep. Jose E. Serrano are backing the longtime Congressman.
“I think change is in the air … I think it’s time to bring a bold new vision to Congress,” Mr. Espaillat said.
Councilman Oliver Koppell and State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, both members of the Ben Franklin Club, have endorsed Mr. Espaillat on their own. Former Bronx Borough Presidents Adolfo Carrion and Fernando Ferrer also endorsed him.
Mr. Espaillat is one of four challengers trying to unseat Mr. Rangel for Congressional District 13, which because of redistricting, now reaches into the Bronx and includes neighborhoods the Ben Franklin Club covers, including Kingsbridge, Kingsbridge Heights, Van Cortlandt Village and Norwood. Because of redistricting, the district has a Latino majority.
After hearing from four candidates in Tibbett Towers’ sweltering community room, the club voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Espaillat. He received 54 votes; Rep. Charlie Rangel 13; Craig Schley 2; Joyce Johnson 1; Clyde Williams 1. There were 4 no endorsements and 2 defective ballots.
KeywordsRep. Charles Rangel, The Ben Franklin Reform Democratic Club, Mark Levine, Assemblyman Carl Heastie, state Senator Jose M. Serrano, Rep. Jose E. Serrano, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Councilman Oliver Koppell, State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, Adolfo Carrion, Fernando Ferrer, Craig Schley, Clyde Williams