WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Adriano Espaillat officially launched his re-election bid for state Senate Wednesday night, two days after conceding to Rep. Charlie Rangel following a contentious Congressional primary.
Supporters packing Fort George Presbyterian Church, which was decorated with bunches of red, white and blue balloons, roared as Espaillat formally declared that he wants to return to Albany to represent the 31st Senate District, which stretches along Manhattan's west side.
"Do you want me to run for Senate? Do you want me to run for Senate?" he shouted, as the crowd burst into applause.
"I ask for your support."
Espaillat admitted that he was "a little bruised" following his razor-thin loss to Rangel, which ended with a re-count and allegations of voter fraud. But he said he was inspired by the support he received across the neighborhood.
"I think Northern Manhattan came together this summer," he said of the divisive race. "It will always be remembered as the summer of unity."
He also called for a "big tent approach" in the coming weeks "where the Asian, the black, the Latino" come together.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who endorsed Rangel in the Congressional race, gave Espaillat a glowing endorsement and pledged to help his campaign this time around.
"I'm going to be at the subway stations, at the supermarket, I'm going to be on the streets, making sure that the senator of the future is the senator we have today," he said.
Espaillat was criticized by some for having his eye on both the U.S. House of Representatives and the state Senate at the same time.
Linares has already been endorsed by Rangel.