Governor Andrew Cuomo took an unusual step this afternoon and endorsed a member of the Senate Democratic conference, Adriano Espaillat, for reelection. Mr. Cuomo has had a fairly frosty relationship with the Senate Democrats, usually preferring to side with the Republican majority on contentious issues like redistricting, pension reform and the like, so his first endorsement of a Democratic candidate for the State Senate is notable.
To illustrate the point, Mr. Cuomo declined to go out of his way to endorse Democrat Lew Fidler in his infamously close special election for the State Senate earlier this year, despite the fact that he endorsed in a Democrat vs. Democrat special election in the State Assembly that occurred on the same day. Mr. Fidler went on to lose to his Republican opponent by 13 votes. Later, Mr. Cuomo would directly decline to say if he would support Democratic candidates for that legislative chamber, creating much speculation about his ultimate intentions.
State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who announced his intention to seek reelection after narrowly losing a congressional primary against Rep. Charlie Rangel earlier this year, continues to scoop up endorsements that were unfamiliar to him in his last race as he now faces off against the Rangel-backed candidacy of Assemblyman Guillermo Linares.
The latest endorsement came this morning from the Jim Owles Democratic Club, a relatively influential LGBT backing made even more so by Mr. Espaillat’s new district being contorted all the way down to W. 25th Street, a good 45 blocks further south than his Washington Heights-based district stretched in the last electoral cycle.
While State Senator Adriano Espaillat was contesting his ultimately unsuccessful primary challenge to Congressman Charlie Rangel, he certainly wasn’t slouching in gearing up his backup plan of running for reelection to the State Legislature. Collecting signatures solely after Election Day on June 26th, Mr. Espaillat’s campaign submitted 4,238 signatures to get onto the ballot yesterday, far above the threshold needed for the run.
“In just two weeks, our campaign collected more than four times the number of signatures needed to qualify for the ballot – a fact that demonstrates the strength of Senator Espaillat’s candidacy and the enthusiasm of our many volunteers and supporters,” Mr. Espaillat’s spokesman, Ibrahim Khan, said in a statement last night.
State Senator Adriano Espaillat officially moved on to a new race at a meeting of the Northern Manhattan Democrats for Change and the Friends of Adriano Espaillat in Fort George Presbyterian Church tonight, but he still had a lot to say about the close and controversial congressional campaign he just lost to longtime incumbent Charlie Rangel. Mr. Espaillat, who conceded to Mr. Rangel on Monday announced his intention to run for re-election to the State Senate, something he repeatedly said he didn’t plan to do “at this time” during his congressional race.
“Do you want me to run for the Senate? Do you want me to run for the Senate? Do you want me to run for the Senate?” Mr. Espaillat shouted to the cheering crowd in the church before switching languages to officially announce his re-election bid.
“The fire has not been put out. The hope you had has to persist,” Mr. Espaillat said in Spanish. “The unity has to always survive.”
“In 1972, in a June primary — and believe me, I was there — between Allard Lowenstein and John Rooney for Congress in Brooklyn, there were hundreds of people turned away from the polls,” former Senate Minority Leader Marty Connor, who served as State Senator Adriano Espaillat’s attorney when he was contesting his election against Rep. Charlie Rangel, recalled on Capital Tonight last night.
He added, “The lines were incredibly long, people were still voting in some election districts, in my neighborhood in Brooklyn Heights, at two in the morning, which meant that they had been in line since nine at night.”
State Senator Adriano Espaillat is expected to run for reelection after failing to defeat Congressman Charlie Rangel this year, and Mr. Rangel made it clear this morning that he’s backing another candidate, Assemblyman Guillermo Linares, for Mr. Espaillat’s seat. To explain his support for Mr. Linares, Mr. Rangel repeatedly said that it was due to Mr. Espaillat insisting his sole focus was his congressional bid in the campaign.
“The senator had indicated during the heat of the campaign that he would not run for his old seat if he lost, he said that several times,” Mr. Rangel said on Good Day New York. “What makes that a problem, is because people believed he wasn’t running, Guillermo Linares … said he would run and file petitions to run for that so-called vacant seat, and so that does cause a problem.”
cue the sad trombone
State Senator Adriano Espaillat conceded his race against Congressman Charlie Rangel for a second time yesterday, and it seems he’s not planning to issue the apology to the Board of Elections that Commissioner J.C. Polanco called for anytime soon. Mr. Polanco felt his criticism against the board was unwarranted, but Mr. Espaillat made it pretty clear on Inside City Hall last night that he won’t be backing down.
“No apology,” he stated. “The day after the election we got an unofficial report that showed over 70 EDs … at zero. I could see three or four, that’s within the margin of error. But over 70 electoral districts showing up at zero? Totally unacceptable for New Yorkers!”
“I’m here to acknowledge that we came short two percent, I want to congratulate Congressman Charles B. Rangel for his victory and tell him that I look forward to working with him as we move forward,” State Senator Adriano Espaillat announced at a sunny press conference in Inwood this afternoon.
“Back in 1996 when I first got into politics, I defeated a 16-year incumbent and I ran against the political establishment,” he continued. “I did so again this year, everyone from Nancy Pelosi on down supported the incumbent, so I’m very proud to have run a very strong race.”
fun at the board
Earlier today, New York Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez published a fairly damning report on the Board of Elections and their interaction with Congressman Charlie Rangel’s reelection campaign, notably that Timothy Gay, the deputy chief clerk for Manhattan’s Board of Elections — AKA “the person currently supervising the count of the votes in the Manhattan part of the 13th Congressional District” — held a meeting in Harlem with “key Rangel campaign operatives, and with district leaders supporting Rangel” right before Election Day. Additionally, Mr. Gonzalez reported, “[U]ntil now, no one has mentioned more than 2,000 additional paper votes the board’s staff tossed out this week as invalid.”
And Mr. Rangel’s opponent, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who is currently down by about 900 votes with absentee ballots from his electoral base yet to be counted, isn’t thrilled at the news. His campaign spokesman emailed the story to the media, referring to it as “new findings of impropriety at the Board of Elections,” and politicos supporting Mr. Espaillat have been repeatedly tweeting their frustration.
New York City Board of Elections Commissioner J.C. Polanco isn’t happy that State Senator Adriano Espaillat and newspaper editorials are bashing the agency’s ballot-counting operation after last Tuesday’s vote. On Inside City Hall last night, Mr. Palanco simply unloaded on all of them, calling allegations that they may have tilted the process towards Mr. Espaillat’s rival, Rep. Charlie Rangel, “vicious,” “malicious,” “false,” “terrible” and more.
“When we allow for the editorials in New York City to tell our story, when we allow for columnists and other individuals and elected officials who honestly are doing a disservice to their community by not understanding election law, … [to be] going out there and blasting the hardworking men and women at the Board of Elections, we think it’s appalling,” he argued.