Tish James Endorses Charlie Rangel Over Adriano Espaillat

Charlie Rangel. (Photo: Getty)

Congressman Charlie Rangel. (Photo: Getty Images)

A citywide elected official has finally endorsed Congressman Charlie Rangel.

Public Advocate Advocate Tish James announced today that she is backing Mr. Rangel, bucking allies like Mayor Bill de Blasio, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, all of whom chose to endorse Mr. Rangel’s top rival or no one.

“Congressman Charles Rangel has never stopped fighting for equality, civil rights, and progress for all New Yorkers. And I’m proud to endorse him for reelection,” Ms. James said in a statement. “This city deserves the leadership and experience that this truly great New Yorker provides day in and day out, and I know he’ll keep fighting on issues like the minimum wage, affordable housing and health care in Washington.”

The news of Ms. James’ endorsement, which had been rumored for months, was first reported by the Daily News. It comes on the heels of a poll released yesterday that showed Mr. Rangel holding a comfortable 13 point lead over State Senator Adriano Espaillat, his chief rival in the race for the upper Manhattan and Bronx seat.

Ms. James is one of the few prominent local Democrats to back Mr. Rangel, a Harlem lawmaker for more than 40 years. Mr. Stringer and Ms. Mark-Viverito joined the Bronx Democratic establishment in endorsing Mr. Espaillat; Mr. de Blasio, in a blow to Mr. Rangel, chose to sit the race out.

Ms. James is a former councilwoman from central Brooklyn, where a significant black population, like in Mr. Rangel’s district, resides. The two Democrats are known to be allies and Mr. Rangel endorsed Ms. James in last year’s public advocate race.

The endorsement, however, flies in the face of at least one tie Ms. James and Mr. Espaillat share. Ibrahim Khan, Ms. James’ chief of staff, was a top staffer to Mr. Espaillat for several years. The two pols also share a consulting firm, MirRam.

Though much of the local establishment, beyond Ms. James, has deserted Mr. Rangel, he is still counting on prominent Washington backers to help him pull out a victory against Mr. Espaillat, Pastor Mike Walrond and Yolanda Garcia. Former President Bill Clinton and the city’s congressional delegation all endorsed Mr. Rangel earlier this year.

The Democratic primary is set for June 24.