Despite the long rivalry between the two men, it’s been a fairly quiet campaign between State Senator Adriano Espaillat and his challenger, Assemblyman Guillermo Linares thus far. However, two days before voters head to the polls, both candidates are finally delivering the exciting race political reporters had hoped for all along. In a debate on Inside City Hall last night, the atmosphere remained subdued through the first half, but after both candidates got a chance to question one another, the rhetoric became more charged with accusations flying back-and-forth.
“I took the lead to mobilize the livery [cab] industry over legislation that sought to legalize them over 7 million where yellows don’t go,” Mr. Linares said of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to legalize street hails of livery cabs in the outer boroughs and northern Manhattan. “My question to you is, understanding how that this industry is the heart and soul of our community, how was it that you were opposing, from the very beginning to the very end, this legislation when it was so very critical for our community?”
“Totally disingenuous, he was not the leader of this bill,” Mr. Espaillat responded, arguing that he did, in fact, vote for the bill and that Mr. Linares’ campaign was funded by special interests who actually opposed the bill. “I wasn’t in the pockets of the insurance brokers who are donating to his campaign.”
“You have received over $50,000 from the landlord lobby, and you have received thousands of dollars from irreputable car wash dealers that are paying their employees under the minimum wage,” Mr. Espaillat began when it was his turn to ask a question. “I have a very simple question for you assembly member, will you give that money back?”
Mr. Linares methodically answered that his positions aren’t dictated by his donors and urged viewers to take a look at his record. But it might have been the host, Josh Robin, who asked the toughest question about a controversial mailer Mr. Espaillat sent out accusing Mr. Linares of betraying the Latino community by supporting Rep. Charlie Rangel’s congressional campaign instead of Mr. Espaillat’s bid to be the country’s first Dominican-American congressman earlier this year.
“This flier that you just shown was his last mailing to the voters in the district and it is highly charged and divisive in nature, and I consider it below you senator to be relying on something like this and I will say it is shameful also,” Mr. Linares contended. “This is heavily charged and divisive and it is not the type of campaign we are to be having, pitting one community against another.”
“Guillermo Linares has adhered to backroom politics,” Mr. Espaillat shot back in the final moments of the discussion, pointing to Mr. Linares running his daughter for his assembly seat while he campaigns for the State Senate. “Extending his seat as if though it were a bloodline to his daughter. That is outrageous!”
The fireworks will continue later this morning too. Mr. Linares is holding a press conference with Mr. Rangel to vocally condemn the campaign mailer, the first such media event of Mr. Linares’ campaign. (For his part, Mr. Espaillat declared he’s suspending campaign activities to honor the fallen of 9/11).