Eric Cantor might not be the only big name in Congress to fall this primary season, as voters head to the polls in New York today to decide if 84-year-old Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) will keep his job.
His challenger in the Democratic primary is Adriano Espaillat, 59, a member of the New York State Senate.
“Ever since he’s been censured, he has not been effective. He hasn’t passed any legislation and he has become a liability for the Democratic Party,” Espaillat argued to MSNBC this morning. “You know, he can no longer go across the country and campaign to gain the majority. You know, that’s probably what the Tea Party radicals want him to do, so they can rally their troops against President Obama and the Democratic Party.”
Rangel has served more than four decades in Congress. “It’s time for him to leave. The district wants a new voice, someone that will bring a big-tent approach to politics and government and include everybody,” Espaillat said.
Rangel told the network he has a purpose in wanting to serve one more term, though.
“I truly believe that the Republicans have to break their arrangement with the Tea Party. I truly believe if they’re going to try to become a national party once again, they have to cut the Tea Party loose,” he said. “I think they’re going to have to do something positive in the next couple of years, whether it’s immigration, infrastructure, education. They’re going to have to do something besides just saying no.”
“I’ve been with the president for six years and the Congress, the leadership of the House recognized the contributions I’ve been able to make. And I think the main reason is that none of the competitors have any experience in doing anything.”
Rangel noted that the press keeps hammering at the fact that the Bronx part of his district is heavily Latino, hence an edge for Espaillat.
“And so you know, the press tries to act as though I’m the only one that’s supposed to not be aware of it. But the fact remains if you take a look at his support for me over the years, you take a look that he has no legislative record, you take a look at — at the fact that I’ve represented this district and represented it well, what reason in the world would he decide to look at the map and run?” the congressman said.
Espaillat noted that in his last challenge, he only fell short by a thousand votes.
“Last time I had nobody with me; that was doing it empty handed. Now I have the support of many of the elected officials, citywide elected officials, the United Federation of Teachers, Transport Workers Union, hotel trades,” he said. “…So you know, I’m well equipped right now to bridge that thousand votes. We’re going to win tonight.”
(For complete 2014 midterm coverage, get your campaign fix on The Grid.)