Espaillat is Neck-and-Neck with Rangel in 2012 Campaign Fundraising

By Jill Colvin on April 16, 2012 11:22am | Updated on April 16, 2012 1:21pm

State Sen. Adriano Espaillat is considered a likely contender for the seat.
State Sen. Adriano Espaillat is considered a likely contender for the seat.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

MANHATTAN — State Sen. Adriano Espaillat raised as much campaign money in 11 days as Rep. Charlie Rangel, the veteran Democratic Congressman he is vying to unseat, raised in three months, the latest campaign filings show.

Espaillat collected more than $62,000 from donors between March 20 and the March 31 filing deadline — just shy of Rangel's $67,000 that he raised between January 1 and March 31, according to Federal Election Commission documents filed Sunday night.

“The campaign is thrilled by the strong show of support we’ve received in just a few short weeks," an Espaillat spokesman said. "We’ll continue to aggressively reach out to voters from across Manhattan and the Bronx and communicate Sen. Espaillat’s message of bringing bold, new ideas to Congress."

Espaillat's fundraising effort kicked off a few weeks before he officially announced his bid for office during a fundraiser on April 1. Despite the narrow window, his fundraising activities nearly put him ahead of Rangel, a 40-year veteran politiican, who spent nearly all of February and March recovering from a serious back injury that postponed campaigning and forced him to miss more than 100 votes in Congress.

Despite the fact that Rangel's funding was lower than that normal for incumbents facing opposition, he still holds a substantial advantage — with $226,000 in the bank, versus Espaillat's $56,000, after factoring in spending on expenses such as office rent.

Espaillat's most prominent contributors, according to the filings, included Brooklyn State Sen. John Sampson, the Democratic conference leader in Albany, and Norman Seabrook, president of the city's correction officers’ union — both of whom donated $1,000 to the campaign.

The uptown senator, who played a prominent role in the deal to legalize livery street hails, also received significant backing from the livery cab industry, including cash from New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers' Jose Viloria, and the owners of High Class and Audubon car services.

He also received a $750 contribution from the owner of Mamajuana, the troubled Inwood restaurant where a fight left a young man with brain damage earlier this year, as well as the owners and managers of other local establishments, including the Akra Lounge, El Presidente Restaurant and Caridad.

Espaillat's filings also show that about two thirds of the cash he has raised so far has come from outside of his Upper Manhattan district, including significant backing from the Bronx.

Rangel's filings show powerful support, including contributions from former Gov. David Paterson, who gave Rangel $2,000, Paterson's father, Basil, as well as Margo Vondersaar-Catsimatidis, the wife of the Gristedes' billionaire John Catsimatidis, and star academic Jeffrey Sachs.

Espaillat's run is expected to pose a threat to Rangel, whose district was redrawn earlier this year and is now has a Latino majority thanks to shifting demographics across Harlem, Inwood and Washington Heights.

Also running against Rangel are former Clinton advisor Clyde Williams, who raised $118,000 in the first three months of 2012 and has more than $200,000 cash on hand, as well as businesswoman Joyce Johnson, and Craig Schley, who did not report having raised any money before March 31.

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