News | West Harlem

Espaillat to challenge Rangel for Congress again, politicos say

  • ROUND TWO | State Senator Adriano Espaillat speaks at a campaign event in 2012. He is planning to challenge Rep. Charles Rangel again next year, two uptown political insiders have confirmed to Spectator.
  • ROUND TWO | Rangel, right, has not said if he will run for reelection. Former State Assembly member Adam Clayton Powell IV, left, has filed to run.

Updated, 8:39 p.m.

State Sen. Adriano Espaillat will challenge Rep. Charles Rangel for a second time next year, two uptown political insiders have confirmed to Spectator.

Espaillat will announce his candidacy, which has been expected for months, "soon," one of the sources said.

In his Congressional campaign last year, Espaillat lost to Rangel by only 2 percentage points and 990 votes in a closely-watched match. 

The revelation comes as speculation is swirling in political circles about whether or not the 22-term incumbent Rangel will seek reelection.

On Tuesday, a New York Post article quoted State Assembly member Keith Wright, the chair of the Manhattan Democratic Party and a close Rangel ally, saying that the Congressman will seek reelection.

But the same day, Rangel released a video in which he said, “I haven’t given as much thought as I should” about his reelection plans and said he had yet to decide.

Espaillat will face First Corinthian Baptist Church Pastor Michael Walrond, who filed his candidacy November 19, and former State Assembly member Adam Clayton Powell IV, who unsuccessfully challenged Rangel in 2010.

Another Harlem pastor, Calvin Butts of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, has also hinted at running for congress. A Wall Street Journal article in August quoted him saying, “I’m thinking about it.”

Espaillat would likely be the most serious contender to Rangel if he seeks reelection. The growing Hispanic population of Rangel's district could boost Espaillat's candidacy even more than it did in 2012.

Basil Smikle, a Harlem-based political analyst, said Thursday that Espaillat would have a good chance in the upcoming election.

“The district is predominantly Latino, and I certainly think a lot of those voters … want someone from that community,” he said.

After congressional district lines were redrawn before last year's race to include part of the Bronx, Latinos comprised 55 percent of District 13, compared with 46 percent before the redistricting.

An Espaillat spokesperson declined to comment. Rangel and Walrond did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

news@columbiaspectator.com  |  @ColumbiaSpec

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