State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, a Democrat challenging longtime Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., in Tuesday's primary, called his opponent a "liability" for the party, saying the congressman's past ethical issues have crippled his ability to be effectively serve.
"Right now, [Rangel] cannot get us to the majority," Espaillat told Chuck Todd Tuesday morning on "The Daily Rundown" on MSNBC. "I doubt very seriously that any marginal Democrat in a tough race would take his support."
Espaillat, Rangel and Pastor Michael Walrond will face off Tuesday in a primary in New York's 13th District, based in Harlem and the Bronx. Last cycle, Espaillat came within 1,000 votes of defeating Rangel.
In the cable television interview, Espaillat added that Rangel's effectiveness in Congress ended in 2010, when the House voted to censure him after the congressman was found in violation of numerous ethics laws.
"He has become a liability for the Democratic Party. He can no longer go across the country to campaign to be in the majority," Espaillat said. "He served 44 years, but he hasn’t been effective since he’s been censured."
Rangel pushed back on Espaillat's comments on "The Daily Rundown," telling Todd that his ethical issues are behind him.
"I think voters overwhelmingly have approved of my conduct, especially as a legislator," Rangel said. "I think that issue is behind us."
Whoever emerges from the Democratic primary is the overwhelming favorite in November. The district voted for President Barack Obama with 95 percent in 2012, making it one of the strongest districts for Democrats in the country.
New York's 13th District is rated a Safe Democratic contest by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.