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Rangel's Re-Election Fight Reaches Primary Day

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Congressman Charles Rangel will try to hold on to the nomination for his Congress seat Tuesday in what may be his toughest re-election race yet. Among his challengers is State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who could benefit from the demographics of a newly-drawn district. NY1’s Josh Robin filed the following report.

Charles Rangel spent the last day before the primary visiting a pair of community centers in the Bronx.

Then, for those he missed, he taped a sound truck message.

State Senator Adriano Espaillat of Washington Heights also trolled for last minute votes.

Former presidential advisor Clyde Williams, former executive Joyce Johnson and former model Craig Schley are also in the race.

Not much separates the quintet issue-wise. The contest has partly come down to a question of change or continuity.

"The fact of the matter is that he doesn't have the sway or the influence that he used to have," Espaillat said. "He was a member of Congress for 42 years. He was the chair of the Ways and Means Committee. But he was asked to step down.”

"They just think it's time for a change," Rangel said. "They don't say why but they say it's time for a change. But no one has challenged my expertise to represent this district and the country."

There is another big issue in the race: ethnicity. A majority of voters in the district are Latino. Espaillat is campaigning on the prospect of being the first Dominican-American in Congress.

It was a pitch that's successfully pulling support in Washington Heights.

Voter Julio Nunez said he's supported Rangel in the past. This time he’s supporting the State Senator.

"The emotional, the passion that that entails is a very powerful reason for many people to vote for Adriano Espaillat,” he said.

But the district's Latino population isn't just Dominican-Americans.

And Rangel has wrapped up support from some Hispanic leaders, not to mention backing from top local and statewide politicians.

"There may be some cultural things that are going unsaid in the campaign, and if he's not saying it and I'm not saying it, we'll see how that works out," he said. "But the truth of the matter is, most people want the best that they can get for their vote."

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