The battle for northern Manhattan now has a prominent soldier in the Eric Adams’ army.
Rep. Adriano Espaillat, who represents parts of Upper Manhattan and the Bronx and was one of City Comptroller Scott Stringer's earliest backers, said Sunday he is endorsing Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams in the Democratic primary race for mayor.
It's a move that cements what Adams calls a growing coalition, which he says will be key to securing a win in the next four weeks.
"All of the asking for forgiveness for all the things I did wrong, finally Jesus Christ looked down on me and brought me Congressman Adriano Espaillat, my brother," Adams said Sunday at a rally surrounded by supporters at Plaza de las Americas in Washington Heights.
"I think New York City needs a clear path to the future," Espaillat said. "For that we need unity. We want Washington Heights to be together with Morningside Heights. We want Crown Heights to be together with University Heights, to make sure that we open up a path for the future of this city after this pandemic."
The endorsement comes months after Espaillat initially endorsed Stringer in Washington Heights, his home turf.
"No one is better equipped than my good friend Scott Stringer," Espaillat said back in October during an endorsement announcement for Stringer.
Espaillat withdrew his support after Stringer was accused of sexual harassment by a former campaign volunteer who worked on his campaign more than 20 years ago. Stringer has denied the accusations.
Stringer was campaigning in Manhattan on Sunday. He downplayed losing Espaillat's endorsement, saying he has been reaching out to voters directly and is confident he still has their support.
"I'm going right to the people, the community I grew up in Washington Heights," Stringer told NY1. "I was in my neighborhood this morning and if anything we're getting support. People don't want a politician to tell them what to do, they want to hear directly from the candidate."
Asked about withdrawing his support from the man who once supported his own long shot bid for Congress, Espaillat stopped short of being critical.
"Scott Stringer has done good things for NYC," Espaillat said. "I won’t bad-mouth the brother. But I don't think we need a distraction right now."
It's a significant boost for Adams. He now has the support of Espaillat's predecessor, Congressman Charlie Rangel, still an influential figure in Harlem and he has the backing of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. It's a coalition he said will secure the city's Latino vote.
"We're going to unite and come together and turn this city into what it ought to be," Adams said. "Let's elect a mayor that is one of yours, I came from you."
On Sunday, looking to the next few weeks on the trail Adams seemed to forecast the next few days will bring challenges, although he did no elaborate.
"Don't be distracted. Don't worry about Eric Adams, Eric Adams is fine. No matter what they say, no matter what they do, there is only one thing that matters — I came from the people," he said.
Adams is considered a moderate among the wide Democratic field. He has locked up the support of a majority of the city's labor unions and he's focusing on public safety in addition to getting a handle on recent rise in shootings, which has become a central message of his campaign.
Despite endorsing Scott Stringer, one of the leading progressives in the race, Espaillat said he sees no political difference between him and Eric Adams, he called him a progressive who has the potential to reform the NYPD from the inside.