9:55 am May. 7, 2012
When Democratic district leader Mark Levine declared he was going to run for the State Senate seat of Adriano Espaillat, who is running for Congress against Charlie Rangel, the incumbent didn't have much to worry about. Levine was his ally, and unlikely to challenge Espaillat directly, if it came down to it.
But now, a second candidate has declared he's running for the seat, and says he'll do so whether or not Espaillat is in his way.
In a letter to supporters today, Assemblyman Guillermo Linares, a Rangel ally, announced he would seek the State Senate seat. And he told me he's proceeding as if Espaillat is already gone: "As far as I'm concerned, I'm running for an open seat."
Until now, there has been little downside for Espaillat's in his challenge to Rangel; he's been able to hold onto his State Senate seat as insurance thanks to the staggered timing this year of the legislative and congressional primaries, which are on June 26 and September 11, respectively.
But Linares is a credible opponent, and he'll likely have the backing of Rangel and his allies.
As Linares will note, he is the prime sponsor of the New York Dream Act in the Assembly. Espaillat has talked about the bill frequently, and said passing the federal version of the bill will be a priority for him if he's elected to Congress. But it has gone nowhere in the Republican-held State Senate, where he serves.
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