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.
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:
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.
Congressman Charles B. Rangel today held a press conference on 116th & Lexington Avenue to tout some of his Mexican-American and Puerto Rican supporters. Rangel’s electoral hopes require a strong showing in El Barrio, a predominantly Puerto Rican portion of East Harlem.
Rangel pitch to voters involves portraying himself as the candidate most able to assist President Obama in the last two years of his presidency. He ignores the distance that the president has kept from Rangel since his tax woes, focusing on his more than four decades in Congress and his resulting knowledge and experience. Today he pushed that argument, and also portrayed himself as a deeply embedded part of El Barrio, with his supporter Adam Clayton Powell IV attacking competing candidate, Domincan-born and Washington Heights resident, Adriano Espaillat as an “interloper”.
Here are selected excerpts from the press conference:
Debate “Phone Call”:
Rep. Rangel’s “phone call” at last week’s candidate debate has garnered lots of attention. Here’s what Rangel had to say today about it:
The three Democratic candidates in the 13th Congressional slugged it out tonight in a debate sponsored by the Urban Justice Center Safety Net Project and hosted by St. Luke A.M.E. Church.
Here is Congressman Rangel’s unusual opening.
Update – Post-Debate Media Avails:
Following the debate, all three candidates spoke separately with the press.
Senator Espaillat began with criticism of Congressman Rangel’s opening statement and concluded with a comment about their personal interactions. With a small twist at the end.
Congressman Rangel addressed whether he’s been “far more aggressive in this debate than [he] was before.”
Rev. Walrond began with the observation that the other candidates take him much more seriously than they did early in the race.
(The full debate video follows after the jump.) Continue reading Slugfest at St. Luke’s (Updated x 2)
The three Democratic candidates in the 13th congressional district met Thursday evening for their first debate. Hosted by Abyssinian Bapist Church, the debate featured polite, but at times intense, jousting among Congressman Charles B. Rangel, State Senator Adriano Espaillat and the Rev. Michael Walrond.
A core part of Congressman Rangel’s argument for reelection is his assertion that he alone among the three is capable of providing meaningful assistance to President Obama in the last two years of Obama’s term. Rangel, a 44 year incumbent, has lost a significant amount of Washington clout due to his political and legal troubles in the last several years. Both of his opponents dismiss the notion of Rangel now having a meaningful relationship with the president.
To begin our coverage, here are our post-debate conversations with all three candidates. You’ll also hear Capital New York’s Azi Paybarah on these clips (he’s the voice asking the good questions.)
Continue reading Heating Up In Harlem’s 13th CD (Updated x 3)