Last week, we reported that at a press conference to endorse Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat, former Mayor David Dinkins rambled off-script a bit and said:
But it is important, it is so very important, particularly for the people of this district who vote on Tuesday to recognize how important it is to understand that the city is changing. Most people in the city are going to look more like us than others and that’s just a fact. It is not a bad thing. It is frankly a good thing.
Espaillat was the first Dominican elected to the state Assembly, and his primary opponent, Mark Levine, is white. The seat they are vying for covers most of the mostly Dominican Washington Heights, but has been represented for years by Eric Schneiderman.
Now Levine is out with a statement accusing Dinkins, and by extension, Espaillat, of playing the race card, and knocking Espaillat for holding the endorsement on Rosh Hashanah, a day when most city campaigns go dark:
“Mayor David Dinkins has always been a unifying force in our city, he has brought people together from various diverse backgrounds throughout his political career. He is unquestionably a man of honor and integrity. Today, I read his comments with dismay and disappointment. The fact that they were delivered on the first day of Rosh Hashana added to their inappropriateness. This race for State Senate, like all political campaigns, should be about the qualifications of the candidates and the policies that each of us puts forward, not about our appearance, ethnicity or religion. This is the standard I have always applied in politics, including when I was proud to cast my vote for Mayor Dinkins himself. I call on my opponent, Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat to repudiate these comments immediately as they are insulting to the district and the electorate we are both vying to serve.”
One final item of note here: It’s odd that this statement comes over the transom now, a couple of days after the comments were made.