CITY HALL — State Sen. Adriano Espaillat is taking heat for a new campaign flier that accuses his challenger, Assemblyman Guillermo Linares, of betraying Latinos by endorsing Rep. Charlie Rangel during this summer’s contentious Congressional primary.
“When Guillermo Linares had the chance to help send the first Latino from Northern Manhattan to Congress… He chose instead to betray us,” reads the flier in English and Spanish, which was paid for and distributed by Espaillat's campaign and features a photograph of Linares and Rangel clasping their hands together in victory.
Espaillat is now facing Linares in Thursday's state senate primary. He narrowly lost out to Rangel in a racially-charged contest that inflamed divisions between black and Hispanic upper Manhattan voters.
Espaillat spokesman Ibrahim Khan defended the mailer, arguing that it is "reflective of the community’s sentiments about a politician who made a backroom deal.”
“This campaign is not about mailers and ads,” he added. “Our opponent’s attempt to distract the voters from the real issues is nothing more than a last-ditch effort to gain traction before Election Day.”
But many in Upper Manhattan said they felt the rhetoric has gone too far.
“I have had it with our Northern Manhattan elected officials race baiting in order to win votes," resident Dafari Ekene wrote on the Inwood Community Group on Facebook, calling the mailer "repulsive."
"Memo to the powers that be: we are all in this boat together: black, Caucasian, Latino, Asian, Martian, etc. Stop dividing us along ethnic and race lines.”
During a NY1 debate Monday night, Linares criticized Espaillat's flyer, calling it "shameful."
“It is highly charged and divisive in nature," he said. "I consider it below you, senator, to be relying on something like this. And I will say it is shameful, also. This is highly charged and divisive and it is not the type of campaign that we ought to be having, pitting one community against another.”
Rangel held a press conference Tuesday at the Audubon Ballroom to denounce the flier and call on the candidates to “disavow such tactics.”
“Many Community leaders of good conscience are outraged and have denounced the piece as a divisive message that pits one community against another,” Rangel's camp wrote in their announcement.