NY1's Inside City Hall hosted a debate on Thursday for the Democratic candidates in the primary for the Congress seat in New York's 13th District, where incumbent Rep. Charles Rangel got into a heated debate with his top challenger. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
On Thursday, it was no more Mr. Nice Guy for Rep. Charles Rangel or his top rival.
It all started with a question about petitions to put Adriano Espaillat's name on the ballot for re-election to the State Senate.
Espaillat said he has nothing to do with it.
"I have not instructed anybody, nor have I authorized anybody to circulate petitions," he said.
But his opponents suggest he's privately hedging his bets by running for both seats.
Rangel told Espaillat to take the petition to the authorities if it was unauthorized.
"If anyone put out a petition with my name on it, against the law of the city, state and federal government, I would be outraged!" Rangel said.
Espaillat didn't appear outraged. He was just angry at Rangel.
"The only one who's being investigated in this table is you and it led to Democrats losing the majority in Congress," the state senator said to the congressman.
Espaillat was referencing Rangel's admitted ethics violations. The House censured him in in 2010.
Others in the race mostly stuck to the issues. Also running are former business executive Joyce Johnson, former Rangel intern Craig Schley and Clyde Williams, a former aide to Bill Clinton.
"We need to have a real exchange about ideas and not do these personal attacks and other things, to move our community forward," Williams said.
Those ideas include health care, schools and Columbia University's expansion.
"They must be brought to the table and convinced to be more neighborly with greater goods and services to the community at large," Johnson said.
The biggest issue in this race, though, is whether Rangel been in Washington too long.
"It's a matter of him being antiquated," Schley said. "It's not a matter of anything other than good fruit staying on the vine too long, spoiling and falling off now."
Rangel wants another shot. He wouldn't say if it's his last.
"All of you are saying that it's time for a change," he said. "I can understand that. But there's a job out there that has to be done."