Mayor Bill de Blasio is declining to endorse a candidate in the increasingly contentious race for the House seat held by Charles Rangel, despite his longtime ties to the veteran congressman.
Rangel, a 22-term Democrat who represents a district that includes Harlem, upper Manhattan and part of the Bronx, is facing a stiff challenge from state Sen. Adriano Espaillat in the June 24 primary.
Rangel had spoken hopefully of snaring an endorsement from de Blasio, who managed one of the congressman’s re-election bids 20 years ago. But when asked by reporters on Monday whether he’d give his support to one of the candidates, de Blasio offered a simple, one-word answer: “No.” He went on to chide the contenders for invoking race during the campaign.
“There’s no place in this discussion for questions of race or nationality,” the mayor said during an unrelated event in Manhattan. “I would say to all the candidates involved: Let’s get back to the issues.”
Rangel, who is black, and Espaillat, who is Dominican, tangled in a fiery debate last week, and the congressman accusing his rival of revolving his campaign around his ethnicity. “What … has he done, besides saying he’s a Dominican?” Rangel asked.
De Blasio’s decision to sit on the sidelines is viewed by many as a blow for Rangel, whose grip on his seat has become tenuous after his 2010 censure by the House.