Battle for Charles Rangel’s Seat Spills Over Into Assembly

Carmen De La Rosa, an aide to an ally of Adriano Espaillat, will challenge his rival for Congress, Guillermo Linares.

Carmen de la Rosa.
Carmen De Da Rosa.

An aide to a top ally of State Senator Adriano Espaillat—one of several aspiring successors to retiring Congressman Charles Rangel—is challenging one of his main rivals for the House, Assemblyman Guillermo Linares, for his job in Albany.

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Carmen De La Rosa, Upper Manhattan district leader and chief of staff to Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, revealed to the Observer today that she is running for Mr. Linares’s seat in the Assembly. Mr. Espaillat, Mr. Linares and Mr. Rodriguez are all Dominican-Americans representing overlapping turf in the neighborhoods of Inwood and Washington Heights—and the two state legislators are longtime rivals, while Mr. Rodriguez is a protegé of the state senator.

Mr. Rodriguez called on Mr. Linares late last year not to run for Mr. Rangel’s soon-to-be-vacant post, and to instead seek Mr. Espaillat’s State Senate seat as a consolation prize—a suggestion Mr. Linares rejected. But Ms. De La Rosa argued that her election would be a victory for feminism in an area that has long had only male representatives.

“I noticed there was a lack of leadership uptown when it comes specifically to women in office,” the 30-year-old said, adding that her experiences as both a mother and a legislative aide uniquely qualified her for the job. “I know how hard it is just to find decent daycare, decent opportunities for your child. And it’s so much harder for a family that’s making the minimum wage.”

Ms. De La Rosa, a native of the Dominican Republic who grew up in Inwood, said she “respected” Mr. Linares but asserted it was time for a new perspective.

“He’s done a lot in his own right, but I have noticed in the last few years our community is hungry for leadership,” she said. “I think new energy would really benefit the community. It’s time that we have a change. And we need to tap into the burgeoning generation in leadership in the community.”

Mr. Linares became the first Dominican-American elected to public office in New York City when he won a seat in the Council in 1991. He went on to serve as former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s commissioner of the Department of Immigrant Affairs, then ran successfully for Assembly in 2010.

He forfeited the seat in 2012 to challenge Mr. Espaillat for State Senate. The assemblyman lost and an Espaillat ally, Gabriela Rosa, replaced him in Albany.

But Ms. Rosa pleaded guilty to a fraudulent marriage to get citizenship in 2014, and Mr. Linares ran again for his old Assembly seat. He announced his candidacy for Mr. Rangel’s job almost simultaneously with Mr. Espaillat.

Ms. De La Rosa served as Mr. Rodriguez’s  legislative, policy and budget director for four years, before becoming his chief of staff in 2015. Prior to that, she served as a community liaison for Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, who represents the Upper West Side.

Mr. Rodriguez has already endorsed her for Assembly, as has Manhattan Councilman Mark Levine—another member of Mr. Espaillat’s political circle.

Besides Mr. Espaillat and Mr. Linares, several other candidates are hoping to replace Mr. Rangel: Harlem Assemblyman Keith Wright, former Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV, former Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, former White House aide Clyde Williams and stay-at-home dad Mike Gallagher.

Harlem State Senator Bill Perkins also initially sought the seat, but abandoned his bid after an ally of Mr. Wright announced their intention to challenge him for his job in the State Legislature.

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

Battle for Charles Rangel’s Seat Spills Over Into Assembly