Congressman Charlie Rangel’s re-election campaign is wielding ex-pols as surrogates to cast doubt on his chief rival’s integrity.
Robert Jackson and Adam Clayton Powell IV, both former uptown lawmakers, slammed State Senator Adriano Espaillat this week for leaving the door open to seeking re-election to the senate if his rematch congressional bid against Mr. Rangel fails.
“If Senator Espaillat plans to run for the state Senate this year if he loses his campaign for Congress again, he should say so now in order for voters to evaluate his genuine commitment to his congressional run. Otherwise, he should sign an ironclad guarantee that he will not run for both offices at the same time,” Mr. Jackson, a former Harlem and Washington Heights councilman weighing a run for Mr. Espaillat’s seat, said in a statement sent today from Mr. Rangel’s campaign.
“The people of Upper Manhattan and the Bronx deserve both the truth from Senator Espaillat and a Congressman who is fully committed to serving them in that office,” he added. “Elected office is a privilege from the people – not a cynical game of musical chairs.”
Mr. Rangel’s campaign hammered home the same message the day before, blasting out a Daily New op-ed from Mr. Powell with the section criticizing Mr. Espaillat’s possible re-election plans highlighted. “I urge Sen. Espaillat to pledge not to run for both seats at once,” Mr. Powell wrote.
The Rangel team pointed out that Mr. Espaillat said in June of 2012 that he was not circulating petitions for a senate bid, only to run and win re-election to the senate anyway.
Through a loophole created by New York State’s bizarre system of multiple primary elections, Mr. Espaillat will have the option of running again for his seat if Mr. Rangel wins–assuming no further changes to election law occur in the near future. A June primary date is set for the congressional primary and a September date is likely for the state legislative primary.
Mr. Espaillat’s campaign shot back, hitting Mr. Jackson for supporting Mr. Rangel after the longtime lawmaker vowed that his 2012 run would be his last.
“I find it ironic that Mr. Jackson would ask us about a campaign that isn’t even happening, while Rangel has failed to keep his ‘last term’ promise in this campaign,” said Jesse Campoamor, Mr. Espaillat’s campaign manager, pointing to Mr. Jackson’s own interest in running for Mr. Espaillat’s senate seat.
“Robert Jackson is a hypocrite and instead needs to call on Rep. Rangel to withdraw from the race. Is Mr. Jackson prepared to do that? Or is he ready to admit he is just getting ready to vie for the Senate seat and is covering for Rangel’s political lies?” continued Mr. Campoamor.
Mr. Rangel’s questions about Mr. Espaillat’s re-election plans, however, were unanswered.
Also competing in the primary against Mr. Rangel is Pastor Mike Walrond.