Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta is giving his support to Rep. Charlie Rangel's opponent in the race to represent the 15th Congressional District.
Dominican-born de la Renta is encouraging Democrats and latinos in the district--which extends from Upper Manhattan into the Bronx-- to make Adriano Espaillat the first Dominican Congressman in United States history.
The Observer got a hold of an official statement announcing the endorsement:
“I am proud to endorse Adriano Espaillat for Congress and I call on all Democrats, particularly the Latino and Dominican communities, to join me in rallying behind Adriano’s historic run to change the political landscape of this country,” Mr. de la Renta said. “Our communities are at a crossroads and we need leadership that can help us meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Senator Adriano Espaillat’s record clearly indicates that he will bring bold, new ideas to move our communities forward. I am fully committed to add my voice to help elect Adriano to Congress.”
It's not yet clear if de la Renta has donated money to Espaillat but it is clear Espaillat will need all the green he can get to unseat Rep. Rangel.
Espaillat, currently a New York state senator, is contending with a crowded field of candidates --Clyde Williams, Joyce Johnson, Craig Schley, and Rangel himself--for the Democratic nomination.
De la Renta's endorsement is likely a worrying sign for the embattled Rangel campaign.
Rangel, who's served as Representative to the 15th District for the past 40 years, was censured by the US Congress two years ago and recently, according to New York Magazine, paid a $23,000 civil fine "after getting himself into trouble with the Federal Elections Commission for underpaying on four rent-stablized Harlem apartments, including one he used as a campaign office."
This isn't the first time De la Renta has made a foray into politics. The designer donated money to the Democratic National Committee in 2010, to Hillary Clinton in 2007, and in 2004, the Republican National Committee and Dick Gephardt. His biggest contribution to American politics however, hasn't been money, but style. Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush have all worn de la Renta's dresses during their tenure as First Lady, and the designer desperately wants to dress Michelle Obama.
Espaillat said he and his campaign are "humbled and energized by the support of Oscar de la Renta, who has joined voters in Manhattan, the Bronx, and beyond, in recognizing that our communities need change."