A tipster sent The Politicker this photo of a campaign billboard for state senator and congressional hopeful Adriano Espaillat that features his face looming large over the University Heights Bridge on West 207th in Inwood.
We also obtained a bilingual mailer volunteers for Mr. Espaillat have been distributing in Washington Heights. Interestingly, Mr. Espaillat’s mailers portray his candidacy as a battle against “Tea Party Republicans,” the same strategy employed by his main opponent in the 13th district race, incumbent Congressman Charlie Rangel.
“Adriano Espaillat, bringing back the energy we need to fight Tea Party Republicans!” the mailer says.
Assemblyman Guillermo Linares will endorse longtime Congressman Charlie Rangel’s re-election bid tomorrow at noon. Mr. Rangel’s campaign announced the endorsement this evening via an email. Mr. Linares initially pledged to support one of Mr. Rangel’s challengers, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, however, last month, he appeared at an event with Mr. Rangel stoking speculation he might be preparing to switch sides.
Recently, a Democratic club in Washington Heights held a meeting to endorse candidates in the local Congressional race. Afterwards, a group of reporters and some campaign staffers went out for beers at a nearby diner, Tu Sabor Latino. Once inside, they ran into a table full of volunteers working on the other major political campaign in the neighborhood—the race for a president of the Dominican Republic, between Danilo Medina and Hipólito Mejía, better known as Papá to his supporters.
Outside the diner, sirens flashed as the police escorted a motorcade carrying one of the Dominican presidential candidates up Broadway. It was a physical manifestation of a phenomenon that has long been familiar to Uptown politicos, in the upper reaches of Manhattan, local politicians can’t avoid bumping into the Dominican campaigns. (There is even a seat in the Dominican congress for a representative
from the U.S., such is the size of the ex-pat community.).
Every four years, the Dominican elections play out on the streets of Washington Heights and Inwood—with colorful signs, flags, trucks with speakers blasting Spanish songs and campaign slogans and personal appearances by the candidates. According to a 2005 study by CUNY’s Center for Latin American, Caribbean & Latino Studies, Dominicans make up over 53 percent of the population in the area, and many of the residents are dual citizens who also vote in their home country.
It turns out, this unique political landscape is riddled with potential landmines for local politicians.
Ruben Dario Vargas, a self-described “Northern Manhattan community activist” who has run multiple unsuccessful campaigns for public office, is throwing his hat into the crowded campaign for the 13th congressional district, where Charlie Rangel is running for re-election. Based on his past performance running for the seat, Mr. Vargas is unlikely to be a major threat in the race, but his entry will strip State Senator Adriano Espaillat of his status as the only Latino candidate in a district with a majority Latino population.
Add another name to the list of those contemplating competing for term-limited Councilman Robert Jackson’s seat. Mark Otto, an assistant principal at a public high school, already has registered a campaign committee and created a campaign website.
Understandably, Mr. Otto’s campaign pitch relies heavily on his background as a teacher. According to his website, Mr. Otto “is a kind, passionate, dedicated and reflective leader that has a clear vision for successful schooling in New York City.”
Eyes on the Prize
According to sources familiar with the situation, State Senator Adriano Espaillat plans to run for the House of Representatives if a predominantly Latino Congressional District is drawn in Northern Manhattan and the Bronx when the redistricting process is completed later this year. If his Congressional campaign is successful, Senator Espaillat would be the first Dominican in the House of Representatives.
In a boost to Senator Espaillat’s congressional chances, sources indicate his longtime rival, Assemblyman Guillermo Linares, is leaning toward announcing his support of Mr. Espaillat’s potential Congressional campaign.
Congressman Charlie Rangel currently represents much of the area, but Mr. Espaillat is not thought to desire a direct match with the veteran representative.
On Monday, New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and State Senator Adriano Espaillat will lead an 11 mile march in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement. Marchers will meet at 181st Street and continue to Zuccotti Park. Councilman Rodriguez told the Observer why he supports Occupy Wall Street and how he expects participants to make the five hour trek.