Assemblyman Guillermo Linares will endorse longtime Congressman Charlie Rangel’s re-election bid tomorrow at noon. Mr. Rangel’s campaign announced the endorsement this evening via an email. Mr. Linares initially pledged to support one of Mr. Rangel’s challengers, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, however, last month, he appeared at an event with Mr. Rangel stoking speculation he might be preparing to switch sides.
The Rangel campaign described Mr. Linares’ backing as a “key endorsement.” Prior to his press conference officially announcing the endorsement, Mr. Linares will be appearing at another event with Mr. Rangel and The Coalition of Interfaith Clergy Leaders, a group dedicated to strengthening coalitions in the newly created 13th congressional district, which was made in this year’s redistricting process.
Mr. Linares became the first American elected official from the Dominican Republic when he was elected to the City Council in 1991. Mr. Espaillat is vying to be the first congressman of Dominican descent, which makes him a particularly potent threat to Mr. Rangel since the new district has a large Dominican population and a Hispanic majority.
Mr. Linares announced a run for Mr. Espaillat’s State Senate seat earlier this month. At the time, he made it clear he’s willing to run against Mr. Espaillat if the state senator loses his congressional bid. Mr. Espaillat told The Politicker he hoped Mr. Linares’ decision was a vote of confidence in his congressional campaign.
“I hope he made that decision because he’s very convinced that I’m going to win this race,” said Mr. Espaillat.
Though Mr. Espaillat and Mr. Linares are longtime rivals and, potentially, future opponents, insiders speculate Mr. Linares’ support for Mr. Rangel may hurt him in the long run. Though the race between Mr. Rangel and Mr. Espaillat is expected to be a close one because of Mr. Rangel’s base in Harlem, Mr. Espaillat has heavy support in his state senate district, which includes the largely Dominican neighborhoods of Washington Heights and Inwood. One uptown political operative told us they believe Mr. Linares’ support for Mr. Rangel was “career suicide” and would torpedo his state senate bid.
“This is the dumbest move I’ve ever seen in politics,” the operative said. “The only person this helps is the candidate running against Linares in the next election.”