Twenty-two term Rep. Charles Rangel and challenger state Sen. Adriano Espaillat made 11th-hour appeals to voters in the upper Manhattan and Bronx congressional district on Monday, with Rangel playing up his experience and Espaillat stressing his fresh perspective.
They appeared separately on Fox 5's "Good Day New York" before stumping around the district on the last day before their rematch Tuesday in the Democratic primary.
Espaillat, 59, of Washington Heights, who has the support of many local lawmakers and unions that backed Rangel just two years ago, expressed confidence on the morning news show that he would clinch the 13th district seat this year. "I think the second time's a charm," he said.
Asked by a show host whether Rangel's age, 84, is a factor in the race, Espaillat said no.
"I think his disconnect with the district is a factor," Espaillat said, arguing that he better understands residents are struggling with high rent and low wages in a district that was redrawn in recent years to include parts of the Bronx and more Latino residents. "I think he's been in Washington too long."
Rangel, of Harlem, an hour later on the show lauded his endorsements from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. Admitting that he is seeking one last term in Congress, Rangel highlighted his decades of experience as the best case to re-elect him to office "these last two years."
"He's new, and he just couldn't do the job in my opinion," Rangel said of Espaillat. Rangel likened himself to "an old horse who kept bringing back the grand prize" and Espaillat to a new one who doesn't know the track.
Rangel was censured in 2010 over ethics violations and resigned as leader of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
A NY1/Siena College poll last Thursday showed Rangel had a 13 percentage-point lead over Espaillat. Rangel defeated Espaillat by fewer than 1,000 votes two years ago.
The Rev. Michael Walrond of Harlem and Bronx community activist Yolanda Garcia are also running for the congressional seat.