Another incumbent declares for Espaillat, against Rangel

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Gustavo Rivera. (Photo via gustavoforstatesenate.org.)
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A state senator from the Bronx endorsed one of Rep. Charles Rangel's rivals today, joining the short list of local Democratic officeholders officially opposing the re-election of the dean of the New York delegation.

State Senator Gustavo Rivera said today that Adriano Espaillat would bring "passion and energy to congress."

"I look forward to campaigning for Adriano, particularly in the Bronx, to get him elected as our next Congressman," Rivera said, in a statement.

Rivera's line about bringing "passion" and "energy" echo the Espaillat campaign's not-always-subtle reminders that the 81-year-old Rangel is, well, old, and physically ailing. (Rangel was recently forced by back problems to miss 103 votes, during which time he did not have a public event for two months.) 

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Espaillat is trailing in terms of fund-raising. He has about $56,292 in the bank, compared to Rangel's $226,301. Another candidate in the race, former presidential aide Clyde Williams, has $208,058.

Williams has cast himself as a Washington insider, knowledgable about the inner workings of the capital, and is trying to paint Espaillat, a member of the unesteemed Democratic conference in the unesteemed State Senate, as the wrong kind of insider. Williams told a Democratic club in upper Manhattan earlier this month that "there are "people who are talking about running, they haven't done their job in Albany."

Espaillat stands to become the first-ever Dominican-American member of Congress. 

Rivera joins Assemblyman Nelson Castro—who once worked for Espaillat—and Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez in endorsing Espaillat.

UPDATE: A spokesperson for Rangel noted that The Hill described Rangel's bout of missed votes between February 9 and April 5 as "uncharacteristic" for the 21-term lawmaker. Also, Rangel held a well-attended event for seniors on February 4 and another event for small business owners on April 10.