Democratic New York Congressman Charlie Rangel made a rather racially-charged remark about the main rival in his re-election bid during a debate Friday. Rangel suggested his opponent in the Democratic primary, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, has accomplished little besides being from the Dominican Republic in a district with a large Latino population.
Rangel brought up Espaillat’s nationality after accusing the state senator of not having done “a darn thing” to raise the minimum wage.
“I hope somewhere during this debate, … [Espaillat] tries to share what the heck has he done besides saying he’s a Dominican?” Rangel said.
Espaillat, who would be the first Dominican-born congressman in the United States if elected, appeared to find the remarks offensive.
“It really saddens that after 44 years in Congress — and I say this truly candidly — it saddens me that the congressman has to stoop and lower himself to these types of unfounded attacks,” Espaillat responded.
Espaillat went on to tout his record on the minimum wage.
“The fact of the matter is that I have passed over 70 pieces of legislation in Albany,” Espaillat soon added. “I would love to engage the congressman in a civil debate about where the future of the district is, but to engage in rhetoric that is inaccurate is really not serving to all of us.”
Rangel, who has been in the House of Representatives for over four decades, is in the political fight of his life as he works to hold onto a Manhattan-based district that has become more and more Latino after redistricting and demographic changes. In 2012, Rangel defeated Espaillat by just about 1,000 votes. This time around, Espaillat is widely seen as having improved odds.
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