CD 13 Debate – The BronxTalk Edition (Updated)

Congressional candidates Adriano Espaillat and Michael Walrond joined host Gary Axelbank today on BronxTalk for their fifth debate.  (Close looks at their prior debates are here, here and here.)  The debate, which will be broadcast Monday at 9:00 p.m.*, features a 30 minute discussion among the three.  Charles Rangel cancelled his scheduled appearance, and the show left an empty chair on-set to mark his absence.  (We’ll bring you some clips from the debate after it airs on Monday evening.)

Both Espaillat and Walrond spoke with the press afterwards, discussing Rangel’s absence, top issues in the Bronx portion of the district and more.

Update – Bronx Issues:

I asked both candidates about what they see as the greatest difference in the needs of the Bronx portion of the district from the needs of the Manhattan portion of the district:


Here is Espaillat’s full press availability:


Here is Walrond’s full press availability:

*  The broadcast schedule, as provided by BronxTalk, is:

On Monday, June 16 at 9:00 p.m. it will be televised on BronxNet Channel 67 (Cablevision) and 33 (Verizon), and MNN Channel 34 (TWC), 82 (RCN) and 33 (Verizon) .  

Espaillat For Senate?

As Adriano Espaillat heads toward his June 24th primary in the 13th Congressional District Democratic primary he faces a decision of whether to also prepare to run for reelection to the state senate.  Should he lose in the congressional primary he can still run for state senate, as the primary for state senate and other state offices remains in September.  To do so, however, he’ll need to submit petitions signed by registered voters for his state senate candidacy to the Board of Elections by July 10th.

In 2012 Espaillat lost to Charles Rangel in the congressional primary and then successfully ran for reelection to the state senate.  Whether he is considering the same scenario for 2014 is a topic he would rather not focus on, with it’s clear implication that he’s planning for the possibility of losing again to Rangel.  On Wednesday I asked Senator Espaillat whether he would pledge to not run for state senate.  He did not directly answer, only stating that “I am not circulating petitions for the state senate right now.”  Whether others are doing so on his behalf, or whether he will do so between now and July 10th was unsaid.

CD 13 Slugfest: Round 4 (Updated x 2)

Congressman Charles B. Rangel, State Senator Adriano Espaillat and the Rev. Michael Walrond slugged it out tonight in their fourth debate.  Held at Lehman College in the Bronx, and hosted by NY1, the debate featured sharp exchanges as the electoral clock ticks louder.

All three candidates spoke with the press afterwards, continuing some of the debate themes and addressing some additional questions.


Rangel’s time with the press was quite a performance.   Intensity, flashes of wit and indignation at questions he regarded as flawed in their premise demonstrated his political skill.  Topics included his discussion of Espaillat’s 2012 “traitor” memo and comments last weekend by the Rev. Al Sharpton, whether Espaillat is hedging his electoral chances by preparing to run for re-election to the state senate should he lose this race, Rangel’s health, Eric Cantor and the Tea Party, the importance of local v. federal issues for a member of congress, deportation and Rangel’s description of Espaillat as a “trainee.”

Update – Espaillat:

Espaillat remained focused, attacking Rangel’s support of Gramm-Leach-Bliley, which repealed Glass-Steagal, and a recent amendment of Dodd-Frank and asserting that Rangel “lied on the record.”  Other topics included Rangel’s reference to Espaillat as a “trainee”, whether he will petition for re-election to the state senate, why he believes he could accomplish anything in a tea party-dominated House and a recent uptick in marijuana arrests.

Update #2 – Walrond:

For a first time candidate and political outsider, Michael Walrond appears to have a pretty firm grasp of the basics of running, promoting yourself and attacking your opponent.  Topics included Rangel’s record, his congressional censure, whether Walrond should attack more in debates, whether he’s a spoiler, what he thinks he could accomplish in a tea party-dominated House, his work in Harlem, lessons from the defeat of Eric Cantor and whether he’ll be a “loyal Democrat” if elected.

Espaillat East Harlem Endorsement

State Senator, and 13th Congressional District candidate, Adriano Espaillat was endorsed by a group of Mexican-American business and civic leaders in East Harlem today.  (Charles Rangel held a similar endorsement press conference last month.)


Here is Senator Espaillat responding to a question of how he would “put pressure on the president to end the policy of deportations”:

(Afterwards, I asked Senator Espaillat for his view of Puerto Rico’s status – his answer is available here.)

Puerto Rico’s Status & New York’s 13th Congressional District

We asked Congressman Charles B. Rangel and State Senator Adriano Espaillat for their views on Puerto Rico’s status.  Puerto Rico is, of course, a commonwealth of the United States, although many Puerto Ricans prefer statehood or independence.  A substantial portion of the voters in the 13th Congressional District are of Puerto Rican descent, with particularly heavy concentrations in East Harlem and Jerome Park and Norwood in the Bronx, and many maintain a strong attachment to the island.

Building & Running in Sugar Hill (Updated x 2)

This morning Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference at The Sugar Hill Project, an affordable housing project under construction on West 155th Street in Sugar Hill.  Congressional District 13 primary rivals Congressman Charles B. Rangel and New York State Senator Adriano Espaillat were among the many elected officials joining the mayor.  The Sugar Hill Project is in the 13th Congressional District.

Update #2 – Congressional District 13:

We look at the 13th Congressional District primary-related portions of the press conference, including my question to Mayor de Blasio of whether he plans to endorse a candidate in the race:

We spoke separately, and exclusively, with Congressman Rangel and Senator Espaillat.


I began by asking Congressman Rangel how the race, with barely two weeks remaining, is shaping up:


I began by asking Senator Espaillat whether he expects the controversy over Congressman Rangel’s comment to continue:

Rumblin’ With The Rev (Updated)

Congressman Charles B. Rangel, State Senator Adriano Espaillat and the Rev. Michael Walrond, candidates in the 13th Congressional District Democratic primary, joined the Rev. Al Sharpton this morning at the National Action Network’s House of Justice.

Congressman Rangel’s remark about Espaillat during a taped debate yesterday; “just what the heck has he done except say he’s a Dominican?”, has been a focus of attention.  Rev. Sharpton spoke about during his onstage remarks, and each candidate spoke about it with the press afterwards.

Update – Candidates & The Rev:

Here’s an in-depth look at their visit.

Candidate Q&A:

Following their onstage remarks, each of the candidates spoke with the press outside the the House of Justice.




Rangel In The Heights

Congressman Charles Rangel held a press conference in Washington Heights this afternoon, hosting fellow Representatives Luis Gutierrez (D-Il) and Jose Serrano of the Bronx.  New York City Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal also attended.

They discussed immigration and possible congressional action on the immigration laws, but the real energy was devoted to pushing Congressman Rangel’s re-election.

Puerto Rico:

I asked the three members of congress for their view on whether Puerto Rico should remain a commonwealth, become a state or gain independence.  Congressman Rangel seemed particularly reluctant to respond, noting that it’s a very deep and involved issue.  Here’s what they had to say:

Espaillat & Economic Development (Updated)

State Senator, and congressional candidate, Adriano Espaillat unveiled his self-described “Economic Development for All” plan today in East Harlem.  Espaillat criticized the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone as unduly favoring so-called big-box stores and neglecting small businesses.

Following his own statement and statements from several supporters, Espaillat answered questions from the press, including whether he believes that Charles Rangel has willfully neglected small business owners, how does he reconcile his criticisms with the reality that many local residents decried the lack of shopping and services before this “big-box” mall existed, whether his “40/40/20” housing formula, in place of the common “80/20”, is a state or federal issue and his view of Congressman Rangel’s argument that Rangel’s experience allows him to more productively represent the district.

Update – Rangel Advisor Chimes In:

As soon as Espaillat concluded, Rangel advisor Charlie King held his own press conference.  King, a long time politico whose resume includes running as Andrew Cuomo’s would-be Lieutenant Governor in 2002 and serving as executive director of the Democratic State Committee under Andrew Cuomo, launched into a series of attacks on Espaillat.  Among King’s critiques, what King termed Espaillat’s attack on President Obama’s affordable housing policy, what he regards as a lack of legislative accomplishments by Espaillat and Espaillat’s lack of support among sitting members of congress.  He also described Espaillat as moving from supporting Rangel “100% of the time” to running against him only because “the lines changed.”

King basically deflected my question about Espaillat’s description of Rangel as essentially powerless in Washington in the aftermath of his tax and Rangel Center troubles.  When an Espaillat supporter, after prefacing his question with a reference to “middle east … dictators … in power for such a long time, 30 years, 40 years” asked “when is too long”, King first noted Espaillat’s 18 years in the state legislature, but then veered off message saying that “if someone wants real change” they should consider the third candidate, Michael Walrond.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Ridgewood Redux Edition (Updated)

Today Mayor de Blasio returned to PS 239 Q in Ridgewood for a roundtable and press conference aimed at encouraging parents to enroll their children in pre-K.  de Blasio visited this school in April for a similar press conference.

Update – Bellicose Emails:

Asked by WCBS radio’s Rich Lamb about the Rangers’ Stanley Cup appearance, Mayor de Blasio discussed his “bellicose emails” with the mayor of Los Angeles:


Topics addressed in his Q&A include the Brooklyn child stabbings and the absence of cameras in the NYCHA building where they occurred, the IDC and his relationship with state Senator Jeff Klein, the UFT contract, recent allegations of wrongdoing against former Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes, Willets Point development, consistency of standards among the many community based organizations providing pre-K services, the Rangers Stanley Cup appearance and his long-delayed move to Gracie Mansion.  Here is Mayor de Blasio’s full Q&A:

Rebuild By Design (Updated x 2)

Today Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senator Chuck Schumer and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan announced four winning designs in the “Rebuild by Design” program administered by HUD and the federal Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task force.  Three of the selections are for projects in New York City, with the fourth a project in Nassau County.  The New York City projects are (1) “The Big U”, a series of berms and bridges around lower Manhattan, (2) “Living Breakwaters”, a series of breakwaters off the south shore of Staten Island, and (3) “Lifelines”, to provide flood protection systems for Hunts Point, the site of a major food market that functions as a hub of the region’s food supply chain.

Their press conference included remarks by each of the four government officials as well as an on topic Q&A.

Off-Topic Q&A:

Afterwards, Mayor de Blasio separately answered off topic questions.  He began with a statement concerning the stabbing of two young children in Brooklyn and then answers questions concerning that incident, the proposed state law to allow municipalities to further raise the minimum wage and whether he would pursue a $13 minimum wage for New York City, how that proposed law fits into the political deal that gave Governor Cuomo the Work Families Party ballot line, a young boy hit and killed today by a car and how Vision Zero addresses that location and the large number of shootings in the City this past weekend.  Here is the Mayor’s full off topic Q&A, which began with some press dissatisfaction:

Update – Opening Yucks:

The three elected officials began with a couple of yucks:

Update #2 – On Topic Q&A:

The Mayor, Governor, Senator and Secretary answered several on topic questions, including why the approved projects do not include any in Brooklyn and Queens and whether actions taken by “other jurisdictions” are sufficient, when will the resiliency efforts be complete and when will the majority of Build It Back homes be completed, what complexities Secretary Donovan saw when his Department approved the Build It Back program and why is New York City slower than Nassau and Suffolk Counties to deliver post-Sandy assistance to homeowners.  Here is their full on topic Q&A: