Rangel: Bill de Blasio Said He Was Backing Mike Walrond

Congressman Charlie Rangel. (Photo:  Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Congressman Charlie Rangel. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Congressman Charlie Rangel told radio listeners today that Mayor Bill de Blasio told him privately that he was backing Pastor Mike Walrond for Mr. Rangel’s seat.

The incumbent Harlem congressman, who faces a primary against Mr. Walrond and–more significantly–State Senator Adriano Espaillat today, said on the Geraldo Rivera radio show that the mayor told him that he was personally backing the pastor of the First Corinthian Baptist Church.

“He favors, as he claimed to me, Reverend Walrond,” Mr. Rangel said. “He has a very close relationship with the pastor.”

Mr. Walrond is seen as a dark horse contender in the race, and unlikely to unseat Mr. Rangel. Mr. Espaillat’s challenge is expected to come very close.

Mr. de Blasio said he would not endorse in the race earlier this month–even though he ran one of Mr. Rangel’s re-election efforts in the 1990s. The mayor publicly praised Mr. Walrond in February and New York Communities for Change, a group close to Mr. de Blasio, endorsed the pastor in April.

The mayor refused to confirm or deny Mr. Rangel’s claim, but simply reiterated that he would not make a public endorsement.

“I’m not going to endorse in that primary and I will support the eventual winner,” Mr. de Blasio said.

Mr. Walrond did not immediately respond to requests for comment.