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Rangel, Espaillat, Walrond Set for NY1 Debate

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The city's most hotly contested congressional primary will be in the spotlight again Wednesday, when NY1 hosts the first live televised debate between Rep. Charles Rangel and his top challengers: state Senator Adriano Espaillat and the Rev. Michael Walrond. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

Wednesday's NY1 debate could be heavy on theatrics if recent history is any guide. At recent debates, Rep. Charles Rangel has conducted a fake phone call, been scolded for using his tablet device and attacked state Senator Adriano Espaillat for playing ethnic politics.

"Just what the heck has he done besides saying he's a Dominican?" Rangel said in a televised debate last week.

That remark last week may have backfired, leading to calls for a less divisive campaign.

"The one that divides us has forfeited the right and ought not be in the race," said the Rev. Al Sharpton.

"There's no place in this discussion for questions of race or nationality," said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

De Blasio made clear Monday he won't be endorsing in this race. Rangel, meanwhile, told NY1 what he said last week is out of his system, but he also made no apologies.

"It was something that had to be said, it was said, and I think it's just a statement of facts and we should move on," Rangel said.

Espaillat, picking up the endorsement of Mexican community leaders Tuesday, claimed the high road, saying he won't stray from the issues.

"Our constituents deserve to hear our positions on issues and what we expect to do for them," Espaillat said. "To sort of, like, slip in another direction, I think is a disservice to all of us."

Wednesday night's debate takes place in the Lovinger Theater on the campus of Lehman College in the Bronx. The hour-long debate airs live on NY1, and will stream on NY1.com (with no login required), beginning at 7 p.m.

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