Espaillat, Rangel Make Final Appeals To Voters In NYC Primary

Image: Michael Walrond, Adriano Espaillat, Charles Rangel
Pearl Gabel / AP

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Veteran congressman Charles Rangel, 84, has spent 44 years in Congress - and he has been heavily campaigning in New York City's 13th congressional district to make sure he is re-elected. Tuesday's primary pits Rangel against 59-year-old state senator Adriano Espaillat, who if elected would make history as the first Dominican American in Congress. This is the second time Espaillat runs against Rangel; in 2012 Rangel won by about 1,000 votes.

The latest polls show Rangel leading Espaillat by about 13 points. There are two other candidates on the ballot, the Rev. Michael Walrond and community activist Yolanda Garcia, also Dominican American.

Pearl Gabel / AP

As Raul Reyes reported recently, the two candidates have campaigned heavily for the district's Latino voters. Rangel is one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus; his father was Puerto Rican. Rangel told NBC, “I talk to all voters the same way - I talk about issues they care about, like immigration, affordable housing, and jobs. It doesn’t make any difference whether they are black, white, or Latino.”

Espaillat said to NBC, "I want to focus on the issues voters care about," and has stressed his record to protect tenants' rights, rent regulations and protections for daycare providers.

Espaillat has the support of some key unions and the Working Families Party. Rangel has the support of political figures such as New York Democratic governor Mario Cuomo and Democratic members of Congress such as New York's Jose Serrano and Luis Gutierrez from Illinois.

“This election will be decided by turnout,” said John Jay College assistant professor John A. Gutiérrez recently to NBC. “There is a level of familiarity that people have with the congressman. Espaillat has to work twice as hard as Rangel to win.”