Castro on why it's time for Espaillat to replace Rangel: 'It's a totally different Harlem'
State Senator Adriano Espaillat, a Dominican-American Democrat, is circulating petitions to get on the ballot against 21-term congressman Charlie Rangel. One of the elected officials who appears on Espaillat's petitions as a member of his Committee to Fill Vacancies is Assemblyman Nelson Castro of the Bronx, whose district slightly overlaps with the newly drawn lines of the Rangel district.
Espaillat has not yet made a final decision about whether to run.
In a brief interview this afternoon, Castro said, "It's time for a Dominican to go to higher office, meaning Congress. We have the numbers."
Of Espaillat's possible bid against Rangel, he said, "Being that the congressional district is 55 percent Latino, I think he should take the opportunity and put in his bid."
Castro made a similar argument to El Diario.
I asked whether the tradition of African-American representation for Harlem, and Rangel's historic career, should factor into Espaillat's decision.
"Well, sure," Castro said, "but we cannot deny the fact that demographics show otherwise. If you look at Harlem now and Harlem 20, 30 years ago, it's a totally different Harlem."
Castro added, "The United States shows, teaches us, that there should be no taxation without representation and that is basically what the Dominican community is asking for."
Castro said Dominicans have fought for 20 years to get their nationality recognized as a distinct group on the once-a-decade census form, but "we couldn't get that because we don't have a representative in Congress that says, 'Yes, we're alive. We're here.'"
I asked Castro whether he agreed with Espaillat's earlier warning that not creating a new Latino congressional district could ignite a "nuclear political war" between Latinos and African-Americans for Rangel's seat.
"There's definitely going to be tension between the African-American and the Dominican-Latino community because, you know, we're at this point in time when we have the demographics," he said. "The growth is there."