Presidential formula: Harlem Pastor Michael Walrond hopes to use Obama playbook to topple Rangel

The 42-year-old leader of First Corinthian Baptist Church says he can get thousands of young voters out to vote. But records showed Walrond has a spotty voting history and has lived out-of-state up until recently. His opponents, Rep. Charles Rangel and state Sen. Adriano Espaillat weren’t frazzled by the minister’s ambitions.

He aims to be the Barack Obama of Harlem.

Pastor Michael Walrond thinks young people will vote for him.

Pastor Michael Walrond thinks young people will vote for him.

Pastor Michael Walrond is convinced he can vanquish two heavyweight opponents and snag the uptown Congressional seat by using the 44th President’s 2008 campaign playbook as a guide.

The charismatic leader of the 9,000-member First Corinthian Baptist Church , on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd., is banking on his loyal flock to entice young apathetic upper Manhattanites to get out and vote during June’s primary election.

“Young people will vote because I am running,” Walrond said. “We want to make history. And we are going to make history.”

It doesn’t faze Walrond that he’s up against 83-year-old political vet Rep. Charles Rangel and state Sen. Adriano Espaillat (D-Washington Heights), who narrowly lost his bid to unseat Rangel two years back.

Nor does it bother the 42-year-old Freeport, L.I., product — who seems to have lived everywhere except Harlem — that some have called him an interloper.


“I tell people my bed was in Jersey but my life was here in this community,” said Walrond, who has lived in Edgewater, N.J., and upstate Rockland County since he returned to the area from Durham, N.C., where he served as a minister at Duke University from 1996 to 2004.

Walrond says that he and his wife, Lakeesha, moved into a luxury high-rise building on Fifth Ave., across from Mount Morris Park, six weeks ago, but declined to give a tour of his new digs.

He also shrugs off questions about his spotty voting record: Walrond has visited the polls in the last three presidential elections, but ignored them during the off-year congressional races, records showed.

“Who am I to say Michael Walrond can’t be like Barack Obama?”

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