With the upper Manhattan brawl between State Sen. Adriano Espaillat and Assemblyman Guillermo Linares beginning to take shape, speculation has already begun about who will be behind the two candidates.
It seems pretty clear that Congressman Charlie Rangel, who recently defeated Espaillat in a Democratic primary, will be in Linares’ corner. But another force that could be behind Linares is the breakaway four-member Independent Democratic Conference, which is looking for opportunities to grow its ranks at the expense of Senate Democratic Minority Leader John Sampson.
One source close to the IDC said that the conference was taking a strong look at backing Linares in the race over Espaillat, who is a member of Sampson’s conference.
“The IDC would have to take a long, hard look in that race before deciding who to support,” the source said.
Reached by phone, Bronx State Sen./IDC Leader Jeff Klein said that he “wasn’t sure” at the point who the IDC would be supporting in the race, and that the situation would become clearer when the ballot was finalized.
“I happen to like both Sen. Espaillat and Assemblyman Linares,” Klein added.
Espaillat also has not definitively announced his Senate candidacy, though he is expected to do so by tomorrow.
Already, the IDC has made some noise about supporting Shawn Morse, an Albany County Democrat challenging Senate Deputy Majority Leader Neil Breslin. There has also been speculation that the IDC may back an opponent to Bronx State Sen. Gustavo Rivera — though Klein said this afternoon that he has never actually met the challenger, Manny Tavarez.
The IDC’s Political Action Committee can give about $10,000 directly to its favored candidates, though it cannot give nearly as much as can the Senate Democrats, who hypothetically can give unlimited amounts of money to favored candidates. In reality, that may be difficult, since the Senate Democratic conference remains $1.4 million in debt. The IDC also maintains its PAC can make unlimited independent expenditures on behalf of candidates, though some election lawyers disagree with that assertion.
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