A community organizing group close to Mayor Bill de Blasio has endorsed Pastor Mike Walrond’s bid to unseat Congressman Charlie Rangel.
New York Communities for Change will throw their weight behind Mr. Walrond, a first-time candidate and Harlem preacher, instead of Mr. Rangel or top rival State Senator Adriano Espaillat.
“Rev. Walrond has been a constant champion for all public school students in their fight to retain space and resources from a Wall Street privatization movement that has attempted to systematically remove the most vulnerable students from their schools in Harlem,” said Jonathan Westin, executive director of NYCC, in a statement to the Observer.
Mr. Westin said in the statement that NYCC endorsed Mr. Walrond because of his “consistent support on issues vital to the Harlem, Washington Heights and Bronx communities,” including affordable housing, fair pay for workers, immigration reform and opposition to certain charter school co-locations.
The influential group, formerly known as Acorn, is a staunch opponent of charters and praised Mr. Walrond for appearing at a rally opposing one of the co-locations of Success Academy founder Eva Moskowitz’s schools.
NYCC, backed and funded by several labor unions, achieved a degree of prominence after endorsing Mr. de Blasio’s mayoral bid early into last year’s race. They proved able to marshal ground troops on behalf of candidates in heavily minority areas like central Brooklyn and southeast Queens, but will be testing their clout this year in a district that spans uptown Manhattan and parts of the Bronx.
Mr. Walrond’s bid remains a long-shot against Mr. Rangel, the incumbent for four decades, and Mr. Espaillat, who nearly defeated Mr. Rangel two years ago. The three candidates will face off in their first debate tomorrow evening.