HARLEM — The race for upper Manhattan's congressional district seat just got a little less crowded.
"The 13th District reflects diverse communities in Northern Manhattan and needs someone who can unite us and move our neighborhoods forward," said Morgan, who has also worked as a former aide to Rangel. "Adriano Espaillat will be that congressman."
Espaillat was one of a group of Latino politicians who called for the creation of a congressional district where a candidate of Dominican heritage could be elected. The federal judge drawing district lines instead made the historically black 15th congressional district a more Latino-focused district by extending it to the southern Bronx.
"I am humbled to earn the support of Vince Morgan and voters from a cross section of Manhattan and the Bronx," Espaillat said. "I am running for Congress to bring my bold, new ideas to Washington, D.C., and build a stronger New York for all."
The new 13th District is 55 percent Hispanic, 12 percent non-Hispanic white, and 27 percent non-Hispanic black, compared with the old 15th District's 46-percent Latino, 26-percent black and 21-percent white populations.
Morgan said the demographics of the new district weighed heavily in his decision.
"It's a different district today than it was on March 19. We need to consider the reality of what leadership looks like," he said. "It need not be based on race or religious background but who will do the best job to bring the district together. The notion that this is a black district is not correct."
Morgan was in the midst of his third attempt to unseat Rangel for the seat. He said the race has become too much about Rangel, who is serving a 21st term and has vowed to serve a full 22nd term if elected amid speculation that he would resign to choose a successor.
Rangel is scheduled to make his first public appearance in more than a month Tuesday.
"We spend more time talking about the incumbent's exit and how it's his seat, but it's not his seat," Morgan said. "In this district we need to worry about jobs, small business and moving forward together. We need to move beyond one person being the standard bearer for this district."
Espaillat warned of "nuclear political war" between blacks and Latinos in upper Manhattan if a Dominican seat was not created, but that has not happened so far, as prominent Uptown Latino leaders have thrown their support behind Rangel.
"Everybody does what they have to do," Rangel spokesman Bob Liff said of Morgan's nod to Espaillat. "We are looking for the endorsement of the voters."