MANHATTAN — State Sen. Adriano Espaillat announced that he is planning to run for 13th Congressional District in Upper Manhattan, setting up a showdown with the longtime symbol of Harlem politics Rep. Charles Rangel, DNAinfo has learned.
The announcement was made Sunday at the annual fundraiser for the Barack Obama Democratic Club of Upper Manhattan, which Assemblyman Keith Wright, City Councilmen Robert Jackson and Ydanis Rodriguez, and several other political figures attended, sources said.
After Espaillat told the crowd about his intentions during a speech kicking off the event, several people in a packed apartment at 565 W. 169th St. began clapping enthusiastically.
Espaillat, who made history as the first Dominican-American to be elected to a state legislature in 1996, will battle Rangel because a panel of judges decided not to create a separate majority Latino district in the neighborhood, as some advocates had called for.
During his tenure in the state senate, he has sponsored legislation cracking down on the sale of the fruity alcoholic beverage nicknamed "Nutcracker" to minors.
Espaillat, 57, also advocated for strengthened rent regulations and the ability for daycare providers to bargain collectively.
Rangel, 81, has served Upper Manhattan since 1971 and is the dean of New York's congressional delegation.
Although he recently announced he would run for a 22nd term, people in political circles have been murmuring that he might to try to hand his seat over to someone such as Wright, if elected, rather than serve the full two-year term.
Bob Liff, Rangel's campaign spokesman, declined to comment, but reiterated that the Congressman is running to serve a full term.
Democrats Joyce Johnson, Vince Morgan, Craig Schley and Clyde Williams, a former advisor to President Bill Clinton, have also declared themselves candaites for the Congressional seat.
In 2010, after a two-year ethics investigation, he was censured by the House.
And in late March, Rangel reportedly agreed to pay a $23,000 fine to settle campaign finance violations related to a rent-subsidized apartment in Harlem.
Rangel's future with Congress was further thrown in turmoil this year as a result of New York's redistricting process.
After the 2010 Census mandated that New York lose two Congressional seats and redraw district boundaries, advocates pushed for a majority Latino district that incorporated parts of The Bronx, Queens and Manhattan.
But after the state legislature failed to reach a deal on the boundaries, a panel of federal judges imposed their own, excluding a new majority Latino seat from the plan.
Still, Rangel's 13th Congressional seat is now 55.1 percent Hispanic, 27 percent non-Hispanic black, and 12.2 percent non-Hispanic white, which reflects a significant drop in the black population from a decade ago.
Additional reporting by Jill Colvin