Latino wild card in two races
- Last Updated: 5:06 AM, March 25, 2012
- Posted: 12:53 AM, March 25, 2012
INSIDE CITY HALL
A furious fight over Charlie Rangel’s congressional seat could spill over into next year’s mayoral race.
State Sen. Adriano Espaillat has begun circulating petitions to take on Rangel in what may become an explosive primary on June 26, pitting a well-known Latino leader against the city’s most prominent African-American elected official.
“How does it help Bill Thompson to have a black-Hispanic war?” asked one political insider.
Thompson at the moment is the only black candidate in the 2013 mayoral field.
He’s counting on picking up a sizable number of Hispanic votes to add to the 80 percent or so of the black vote he’s likely to collect — a combination that provides a big step up in a five- or six-way race.
But if the congressional showdown turns bloody, Hispanics might not be eager to support Thompson.
“You’d have a fractious city,” said the insider. “Latinos would be turned off.”
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer also has something to worry about.
If Espaillat challenged Rangel and lost, the senator’s effectiveness as one of Stringer’s key supporters would be blunted.
“If I were Charlie Rangel, I’d call up Thompson and ask him, ‘What the hell is going on?’” said one source in a rival mayoral camp.
Another source said Rangel’s backers have already pressured two elected officials who were going to line up with Espaillat to back off.
Espaillat allies dismissed talk of possible black-Hispanic tensions as overblown and not meaningful to a mayoral contest so far away.
“Blacks and Latinos run against each other all the time,” said one person in the would-be challenger’s camp.
“This is going to happen in three months, then it’s over. It’s 15 months [to the mayoral primary] before anything else happens.”