Two years ago, State Sen. Adriano Espaillat came within 1,000 votes of ousting longtime Rep. Charlie Rangel. So it is no surprise that the Washington Heights lawmaker is back. But can he topple Rangel this time, or is he destined for a repeat performance? Michael Scotto has the story in part four of his series, "Rangel's Last Run.”
State Sen. Adriano Espaillat's morning begins with a jolt of caffeine.
“The typical day starts at 6 o'clock with a shot of Espresso,” said Espaillat.
The ambitious politician needs all the energy he can get.
Two years after losing to Rep. Charles Rangel by only two percentage points, the 59-year-old Espaillat is back, trying to finish what he started.
“I think I’m working smarter,” he said.
That appears to be paying off. Espaillat is racking up some important local endorsements, like that of the retail workers union, which gave Espaillat the news when we are driving around town with him.
On top of that, politicians who were once on Team Rangel are switching sides.
Part of what's fueling the switch? The sense that demographics are on Espaillat's side. The district is now majority Hispanic. And if elected, Espaillat would become the first Dominican-born member of Congress.
Speaking in front of a small class at Columbia University, Espaillat talks about his childhood.
“We came on a visitor’s visa and we stayed, of course and so we went back to the DR to get our green card,” said Espaillat.
Rangel says Espaillat's entire campaign is based on that story.
“I want to make certain that we win so big that when a person runs it's not going to be where they were born, it's what they're going to do,” said Rangel.
Comments like that have no doubt turned Rangel and Espaillat's relationship icy.
For his part, Espaillat claims his campaign is about bringing new ideas to a district that’s been represented by one man for nearly 44 years.
“This is a big campaign for everybody, not just one group over the other,” said Espailat.
Still, Espaillat is clearly focusing his time on his Northern Manhattan base.
And that is seen in the poll numbers. According to our survey, only five percent of African Americans support Espaillat. The State Senator is clearly hoping the growing clout of Latinos will be enough to make history.