After fear that there might be less unity than planned, a “unity rally” hosted by Rev. Al Sharpton this morning at the National Action Network headquarters on 145th Street, was suddenly cancelled.
The unity rally was announced yesterday by Sharpton as a way of “healing the community” and moving forward with a “policy agenda” after Rangel defeated Espaillat for the second time in three years. Amid talk of changing demographics in a district that’s 54% Hispanic, Rangel defeated Espaillat again, but this time by almost a thousand votes more than in 2012. It took Espaillat two days to admit defeat.
The entrance of Walrond into the race was widely seen as a way of splitting the Black vote and ensuring Rangel’s defeat.
Sharpton rejected the idea that voters should allow Rangel one last term so he may retire in office. Back in March, during a speech at Walrond’s church, Sharpton said, “Rangel’s been in office 44 years… now, all of a sudden people are going to tell us ‘Well, let Rangel retire in office.’ He didn’t let Adam retire in office.”
“Sharpton has not officially taken a position in the race, but several of his allies have given seed money to Walrond’s campaign, and on Sunday, speaking from the podium, Sharpton echoed Walrond’s campaign theme, saying, “I think that we got to really be clear that it’s time for us to have a new vision and a new day,” reported Azi Paybarah in Capital New York in March.
Rangel, who is 84 and a Korean War vet, has served in Congress for over four decades and is a member of the Ways and Means Committee. A main theme of Espaillat and Walrond’s campaigns was that Rangel was too old and that there was a need for “new blood.” What they left out was a detailed agenda on what they would do for NY-13.
Rangel played a big role in establishing empowerment zones in economically depressed urban areas and funding is now at $3.5 billion for urban and rural development. The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone receives $300 million each fiscal year. Rangel also earmarked money ($100,000) for Boys and Girls Habor and the Dominican Women’s Development Center.
Reports from the New York Daily News indicate that Rangel may have been planning to announce his support for former City Councilman Robert Jackson who is running for Espaillat’s State Senate seat. Jackson was term limited in 2013 and announced his candidacy for Espaillat’s State Senate seat on June 26. On that same day, two days after election day, Espaillat finally conceded Rangel had won.