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Obama Won't Endorse In Rangel-Espaillat Race

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- President Barack Obama won't be making an endorsement in the Democratic primary for New York's 13th Congressional District.

Democratic National Committee spokesman Michael Czin noted Monday that Obama also did not make an endorsement in the race in 2010 or 2012.

Czin added, however, that Obama believes U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel advocates for quality affordable health care, fair wages and opportunity for all his constituents.

Rep. Charles Rangel Looks For Another Term In Office

On Sunday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo threw his support to Rangel.

Rangel, 84, is running for his 23rd term in the House of Representatives in a highly contested race. His opponents include state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who would be the first Dominican-born member of Congress if he wins Tuesday's primary and the general election in November, as well as Harlem minister Rev. Michael Walrond Jr.

Espaillat Gets Ready For Democratic Primary

In the final hours before the primary, Rangel said he is confident of yet another win.

"With the four candidates that we have, who in the heck can possibly say that I'm not the best qualified to bring back what is best for my community, for my city, my state, my country," Rangel told 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck.

Espaillat, his main opponent, said voters can draw their own conclusions on the timing of Cuomo's endorsement, but stressed what matters now is getting the turnout for an early summer election.

Race Becomes Issue In Rangel-Espaillat Showdown

"I think the important thing is that we get the message out, that we meet the voters, we let them know that tomorrow is primary day and they come and cast their votes," Espaillat said. "That's where it's going to be decided."

Espaillat dismissed the latest polls, which show Rangel with a double digit lead, telling WCBS 880's Paul Murnane, "I'm very optimistic that my voting base is energized and happy about this and they are going to come out and vote."

Rangel's Harlem district has been redrawn to include a large swath of Hispanic voters. That is a major reason why race and ethnicity have become such large factors in the race, Ken Sherrill, political science professor emeritus at Hunter College, told WCBS 880's Marla Diamond.

"In fact, that's one of the differences between the two candidates," Sherrill said. "It's very hard to find an issue on which they disagree."

Voter turnout will decide the outcome, said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"The question is can Rangel's years and years and years of service to the community outweigh the ethical problems he's had," Carroll said.

In 2012, Rangel beat Espaillat by less than 1,000 votes.

Rangel has also gained endorsements from Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand as well as former President Bill Clinton.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who once managed a Rangel campaign, has stayed out making any endorsements in the race, and chided Rangel for referencing Espaillat's ethnic background and saying that he was running because the district had become increasingly Hispanic.

Espaillat has been endorsed by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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