Since petitioning began last week, State Sen. Adriano Espaillat has already collected enough signatures to qualify for the ballot in the June primary contest against long-serving Congressman Charlie Rangel, his spokesman said today.
“There is tremendous enthusiasm for Senator Espaillat’s candidacy, which is demonstrated by the fact that he’s already surpassed the number of signatures necessary to get on the ballot,” said spokesman Ibrahim Khan.
Khan said that the campaign would continue to collect signatures in anticipation of ballot challenges. He estimated that between 35-50 volunteers were out in the newly drawn 13th congressional district collecting petitions for the senator.
Rangel has said repeatedly in the past few weeks that he intends to run for re-election. The congressman was recently slapped with a $23,000 fine from the Federal Elections Commission for running his re-election campaign out of his rent stabilized apartment. He has also reportedly been recovering from back surgery, that has kept him away from Washington and out of the public eye.
Espaillat has yet to officially announce his candidacy, but a post-redistricting increase in the district’s Latino population, as well as Espaillat’s option to run for re-election to the State Senate if he loses the June congressional primary, all but assure that he’ll eventually jump in the race.
But Rangel is hardly down for the count. He scored his first political club endorsement last week, and has also been endorsed for re-election by Queens Democratic Party boss Congressman Joseph Crowley and State Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr.
Assemblyman Keith Wright, the chair of the Manhattan Democratic Party, is overseeing Rangel’s petitioning gathering. He told me that the process was going “extremely well” and that he expected the congressman to have “quadruple the number” needed to qualify for the ballot. As for Espaillat’s challenge, Wright offered his best of luck.
“Let me just say this, obviously he thinks he has a good chance of winning and good luck to him,” Wright said. “That’s all I’m going to say.”
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