If at first you don’t succeed. Try, try, try again.
And for State Senator Adriano Espaillat the proverb by English writer William Edward Hickson couldn’t be more true.
Last month, before his supporters and news media, Espaillat announced that he would be running a second time against Harlem Representative and Congressman Charles Rangel in a bid to become the first Dominican-American Congressman.
On February 27th, 2014 before a crowd at the Palace Theater Espaillat made his announcement. During the gathering the crowd was heard cheering, “going with you” in Spanish showing their support for the potential progressive-identified candidate.
Described as being the progressive candidate who will bring change to the Democratic Primary when he runs again against Rangel, Espaillat aims to help the people of the 13th district by tackling issues they face like health issues, affordable housing, and the current hurdles created by the immigration roadblock.
“They’re not Dominican issues, they’re not Puerto Rican issues, they’re not black or white or Asian issues. They impact the entire district,” Espaillat said, showing he will represent everyone from the Upper Manhattan and South Bronx community in Washington.
He’s successfully advocated on behalf of 2.5 million New Yorkers by extending and strengthening rent regulations; he’s extended the J-51 Housing program that protected tenants from unfair rent hikes; he’s passed laws aimed at cracking down on retailers who sell alcohol to minors; and has passed legislation which supports 40.000 livery drivers which gives them protection against violent crimes and inclusion of the drivers in the Workers’ Compensation benefits program and because of these accomplishments Espaillat is considered by most to be champion of the people.
Despite losing to Rangel by 1,000 in the 2012 Congressional Elections, Espaillat will be a stiff challenge for Rangel as he aims to bring changes to New York City’s 13th Congressional District by ousting the 42 year incumbent Rangel.
“That we’re able to collectively come together and get one voice,” Espaillat said, to his crowd of supporters back in February. Promising to be their voice in Washington, Espaillat promised he would bring change to the community by voicing what needs to be changed in Washington, “And yes people want to see change. They want to see new, fresh ideas that will lead us in the right direction.”
While receiving a great deal of support among fellow members of the Democratic Party, Espaillat has also received support from members affiliated with the Republican Party. The latter’s support has drawn some criticism towards Espaillat.
One of Espaillat supporters consists of a conference made-up of five Democratic State Senators who chose to align themselves with Republican lawmakers. The five Democratic senators and lawmakers have been described as trying to prevent the Democratic Party from taking control of the chamber. The group have donated $6,500 to Espaillat who has accepted the donation.
Due to Espaillat accepting the contribution from the group, the idea of Espaillat being a progressive candidate has been challenged.
James Freedland—a spokesman for Rangel—has taken the connection and tried to smear Espaillat as being “the darling of the forces blocking a Democratic majority in Albany.”
Along with Freedland, Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell (D-Manhattan) has expressed dissatisfaction with Espaillat accepting the support from the group.
“The things that matter most to us are blocked in the Senate because the Republicans remain in control,” expressed O’Donnell, some of the items claimed to be blocked by the group are legislation to raise the minimum wage, enact a women’s equality agenda, and expand financial aid to children of undocumented immigrants to help pay for college.
However, supporters of Espaillat criticize the remarks being made by Rangel’s supporters believing they are in no position to criticize since Rangel has done things that have gone against the party’s interest.
According to spokesman Eric Soufer of the Independent Democratic Conference, “An IDC-led Senate has passed tougher gun laws and a higher minimum wage to compensate for Charlie Rangel’s inaction on progressive issues,” showing Rangel isn’t clear of going against party interest.
While Espaillat has drawn some criticism for accepting contribution from a group that may oppose the Democratic Party, isn’t the comment that he isn’t a progressive a fallacy?
Since President Obama took office there has been attempts to embrace a bipartisanship between the parties. While there have been minor successes in doing so, Espaillat’s backing and accepting of a group not truly a part of his political party shows that he may be what the 13th district needs: change.
So far Espaillat appears to hold true to being a bringer of change. By receiving support from an opposing party, he can be one of the very few—like President Obama has tried to do—by bringing change to Washington and re-vamping the way old political thinking and manning that has locked our representatives in a divide which has resulted in people going unheard.
Being a GOP-ally doesn’t mean Espaillat will not continue to have the interest of the people he represents at heart. By bridging to both Democrats and Republican shows that Espaillat is progressive, because he is willing to work with another party rather than merely resorting to fighting.
The upcoming 2014 congressional elections is steadily approaching, and the race between Rangel and Espaillat should be an interesting one.