Rep. Charles Rangel has picked up the high profile endorsement of former President Bill Clinton in the race to win the 13th Congressional District.
“I’m happy to endorse my good friend Charlie Rangel for Congress,” Clinton said in a statement released by the Rangel campaign on Tuesday. “Charlie has been a champion of more good jobs, successful small businesses, and strong families for more than 40 years. That’s what his district and our country need now.”
Rangel is in his 43rd year as a congressman and is running for re-election against State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who competed against him in the 2012 race for the seat, and the Rev. Michael Walrond Jr. from the First Corinthian Baptist Church.
Espaillat criticized Clinton for endorsing Rangel in an interview on WABC radio on Wednesday.
“I really love the Clintons. I’m kind of a little disappointed that they’re not on the side of change. I really love them. They’re good people,” Espaillat said.
Rangel has said that he is running for the last time this year, in order to finish out his time in Congress as President Barack Obama, CC '83, finishes his term in the White House.
“I am not in this job just to stay here until I drop dead,” Rangel said at the first congressional debate on April 10. “We’re going to work with the president—take advantage of these two years.”
Espaillat added in the WABC interview, “I would rather have Obama’s endorsement—and he hasn’t endorsed the congressman”—a dig at Rangel for his alignment with the president.
Former Manhattan Borough President and current Comptroller Scott Stringer announced his endorsement of Espaillat on Wednesday in a press conference outside City Hall.
The New York Observer quoted Stringer as expressing his support for Espaillat in the context of his support for Rangel in the 2012 election.
“I have tremendous respect for Congressman Rangel. So to me, my endorsement two years ago was a recognition that he should have those two years to go out and finish the work that he’s doing. By all indications it was signaled to me that  would be his last term in office,” Stringer said.