Political Arena

Espaillat will challenge Rangel


State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who currently represents a large portion of Riverdale, will challenge longtime incumbent Rep. Charlie Rangel for his seat in Congress.

A spokesman for Mr. Espaillat said the state  senator’s campaign team started collecting signatures on Tuesday. The newly redrawn district, now dubbed District 13, is mostly in Manhattan including Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill, and now includes Kingsbridge, Kingsbridge Heights and Van Cortlandt Village.

For Mr. Espaillat, the race may be a no-lose situation because the primary date for state elections is still slated for September, meaning he could lose a congressional primary in June and still run for re-election to the state senate.

If Mr. Espaillat wants to beat the illustrious Mr. Rangel, he’s going to need all the help he can get.

That means help in the Bronx. But he won’t be getting any from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.

When Mr. Diaz showed up unexpectedly to the Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale for last week’s Community Board 8 meeting, we asked him who would get his endorsement if Mr. Espaillat challenged Mr. Rangel.

He didn’t hesitate.

“I will support Charlie Rangel,” he said.

He referred to Mr. Espaillat as his brother, but said that Mr. Rangel was the incumbent and so he would support him. He did add that if the seat were empty, (there’s a slight possibility Mr. Rangel may retire) he would most likely support Mr. Espaillat.

Mr. Espaillat is not a Bronx guy — his base is in Washington Heights — but he has represented a large swath of Riverdale voters in the Senate since 2010.

Mr. Rangel is Upper Manhattan. The Harlem-based congressman originally took office in 1971. He is the third-longest serving congressman in the nation and most senior in New York. When he’s running in Upper Manhattan, he’s the definition of entrenched.

But new Congressional lines, approved on Monday, include a sizeable chunk of the Bronx. The district is also more Latino, at 55 percent. Mr. Espaillat has to win the Bronx and the Latino vote to beat Mr. Rangel.

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