State Senator Adriano Espaillat, a recently-announced congressional candidate against veteran Rep. Charlie Rangel, went on Inside City Hall last night and made the case for his broader appeal. Mr. Rangel’s district was made majority-Latino in redistricting and Mr. Espaillat’s path to victory depends on Latino voters being energized by the historic possibility of electing the first Dominican-American to Congress, but it seems he isn’t interested in letting that define his candidacy.
“My decision wasn’t driven by ethnic politics,” Mr. Espaillat contended early in the interview. “I currently represent a district that has a significant number of white voters, African-American voters, and Latino voters. In fact, it has Riverdale and the West Side.”
Mr. Espaillat was later asked whether his base in Washington Heights has enough registered voters to truly awaken and vote for him in large numbers. Mr. Espaillat conceded he might be the underdog in the race, but pointed to his past campaigns where he defeated non-Latino challengers in the area.
“Ultimately, I am the type of representative that traditionally hasn’t been expected to win. I wasn’t expected to win when I ran for the Assembly back in 1996. I certainly wasn’t expected to win — if you look at the demographics, and purely the demographics — in the senatorial district … that was previously represented by Eric Schneiderman,” he said. “I think I did very well in both cases.”
“I do look at the demographics, but that’s not the only thing I go by,” he continued. “I go by the agenda of the residents of the district, whether they are white, black, of Latinos, … and I think they want a new voice in Congress.”