New York State Senator Adriano Espaillat’s Win Believed to be Another Blow to Harlem’s Black Political Power

Assemblyman Keith Wright conceded the 13th district Congressional race to State Sen. Adriano Espiallat, left, with Charles Rangel, right.
Assemblyman Keith Wright conceded the 13th district Congressional race to State Sen. Adriano Espiallat, left, with Charles Rangel, right.

Fresh off of Assemblyman Keith Wright’s loss in June’s Democratic Congressional Primary, Harlem’s black political machine suffered another blow last week when former Councilman Robert Jackson lost his second straight bid to win a seat in the state Senate.

Like Wright, Jackson had the endorsement of Rep. Charles Rangel and much of Harlem’s political establishment. And also like Wright, Jackson was competing in a district that added more Latino voters after redistricting.

Marisol Alcantara, the handpicked successor of state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who won the primary for Rangel’s old seat, won a tight race where she got 693 more votes than Jackson, who was in third place, and 572 more votes than second-place Micah Lasher, chief of staff to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

“The truth is this is the official end of the Charlie Rangel era and the beginning of the Dominican explosion,” said one political operative with clients in Harlem who asked not be named to protect working relationships.

“Dominicans in that area just elected their first Congress person and they are excited. Espaillat tapped someone no one knew and they came out to vote for her just like that,” the operative said.

Espaillat had challenged Rangel, who held the congressional seat for 45 years, in back-to-back elections, losing narrowly each time before Rangel decided to retire. Espaillat was then able to drive his base to beat Wright, Rangel’s hand-picked successor.

In addition to pushing Alcantara to victory, Espaillat also tapped into his base to push ally Carmen De La Rosa to victory in the 72nd Assembly District, easily beating his longtime foe Guillermo Linares.

Both the 31st Senate district where Alcantara was elected and the 13th Congressional district that Espaillat won, show clear patterns of racial segmentation in their voting, said Steven Romalewski, mapping director at CUNY’s Graduate Center.

If you lay the 13th Congressional district where Espaillat won the June primary over the 31st Senate district and the 72nd Assembly district, it shows the same Espaillat base of support voting for the winning candidates.

“You can see that the electoral patterns are very segmented,” said Romalewski. “If Jackson or Lasher had expanded their base of support a little, the outcome would have been different. Alcantara was able to secure support in her base.”

Or, as Clyde Williams, a former National Political Director for the Democratic National Committee under President Barack Obama who has twice run unsuccessfully for Rangel’s seat put it: “Black people voted for Robert, white people vote for Micah and Dominicans voted for Marisol.”

It’s not like no one has seen this coming.

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Source: | Jeff Mays