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Rangel and Espaillat campaigns heat up as they trade barbs

Stephon Johnson | 5/22/2014, 1:24 p.m.
Adriano Espaillat

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Charles Rangel

Rep. Charlie Rangel and state Sen. Adriano Espaillat have continued to trade barbs and insults as the race for 13th congressional seat heats up.

During last week’s debate at the St. Luke A.M.E. Church on West 153rd Street, Rangel opened the night’s festivities by pretending to take a call on his cellphone discussing Espaillat and the Rev. Michael Walrond, pastor of the First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem.

“The guy’s only there half of the time. He always supported me in anything I did,” said Rangel while conversing with the imaginary caller. “What happened was, they changed the line. … Yes, it went to the Bronx. When he looked at what happened in the Bronx, he thought he could win.”

Espaillat wasn’t impressed by the joke.

While standing outside of the Kingsbridge Bus Depot during a news conference with TWU Local 100, Espaillat called out Rangel for the phone stunt.

“That’s got one name: It’s called desperation. I won’t be subject to desperation,” said Espaillat. “I have a substantive record; I’m not gonna get up there and sing and dance, because that’s not what I do. I want to have a substantive discussion about the issues.”

“Wacky, very wacky. I thought I had seen everything when I saw the yogurt debate in Albany but, this tops it,” Espaillat continued. “For him to take his phone and make like a joke—what is he going to do, karaoke next time? Our constituents don’t deserve that.”

Last week, the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, AFL-CIO, announced support for Espaillat in the primary, adding to the list of union support for the challenger, which includes the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union; District Council 9; and United Federation of Teachers.

“Adriano knows firsthand the struggles of New York’s working families, and we cannot think of a more qualified representative for the 13th Congressional District,” said Hotel Trades Council (HTC) Political Director Josh Gold. “We need a Congress member who will implement a long–term plan for job growth, smart development and a real solution to income inequality in our city. Adriano is that person. Our 35,000 members are ready to start work on his campaign, and we look forward to working with him in Congress.”

“I am excited to have the support of the Hotel and Motel Trades Council on my campaign, and I am honored to receive their endorsement today,” Espaillat said. “Our city’s future will be dependent on our ability to keep New York a place where families can work and live affordably. In Albany, I have fought tirelessly to bring [opportunities] for all so that our hardworking residents can continue to thrive, and in Congress I will continue to do just that. I thank HTC for their support and for the opportunity to work with their members on my campaign and in Congress.”

The HTC represents more than 35,000 members. The HTC is part of the AFL-CIO and is the union of hotel workers in the New York City metropolitan area and the capital region of New York state.