Congressman Charles Rangel is gearing up for what's expected to be a tough re-election battle by emphasizing his little-known Hispanic heritage.
Because of redistricting, Rangel's district is now primarily Hispanic.
As a result, the Congressman has begun to open up about his Puerto Rican father.
At City Hall Tuesday, Congressman Jose Serrano referred to Rangel as Latino and stressed his advocacy on behalf of Puerto Rico.
Rangel said he never spoke about his background because his father abandoned his mother when he was a child.
“I don’t talk about it because I’ve never had any experiences there," he said. "But I don’t think that’s one of the reasons because, if it was, I would be hablamos con ustedes en Español, no en el Inglés.”
Former state Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV will endorse the Congressman on Wednesday. Like Rangel, Powell is of mixed Puerto Rican and African-American descent.
Rangel's opponent, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, hopes to become the country's first Dominican-American in Congress. The Democratic primary is on June 26.