Octogenarian Congressman Charlie Rangel staved off a vigorous primary challenge from State Sen. Adriano Espaillat last year, but he has yet to gear up his operations for what could be another tough re-election fight. According to his latest filings, Mr. Rangel spent more than he raised and has negative $4,800 cash on hand and $36,000 in debts and obligations.
Last week, State Senator Adriano Espaillat’s campaign circulated a tough mailer against his primary opponent, Assemblyman Guillermo Linares, in which they accused Mr. Linares of “betraying” the community by backing Rep. Charlie Rangel over Mr. Espaillat’s bid to become the country’s first Dominican-American congressman earlier this year and for taking campaign contributions from special interests.
Mr. Rangel, a backer of Mr. Linares’ bid, is angry about the mailer. Really angry. So angry, he says, that he was motivated, in the spirit of the anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, to condemn the controversial campaign literature in question. To that end, Mr. Rangel held a press conference where he gave a ten minute speech expressing his outrage.
The race between veteran Congressman Charlie Rangel and State Senator Adriano Espaillat for the 13th Congressional District in Upper Manhattan will come down to paper ballots. Mr. Rangel was initially declared the winner by the Associated Press based on initial results provided by the New York City Board of Elections, but it was subsequently revealed those results did not include votes from many of the precincts in the district. After a re-examination of the votes, the BOE released unofficial results tonight including votes cast in all of the district’s 506 precincts that show Mr. Rangel defeating Mr. Espaillat by a margin of just 802 votes. According to the BOE, Mr. Rangel received 18,075 votes, or 44.29 percent of the total cast, compared to Mr. Espaillat’s 17,273, 42.33 percent of the votes cast.
These unofficial results do not include paper ballots cast by absentee voters and affidavit ballots submitted by those whose name is not on the voter rolls when they arrive at the polling place. Those paper ballots, which include votes for both candidates, will be counted by the BOE next Thursday and will be the deciding factor in this tight race.
Charlie In Charge
Embattled Comptroller John Liu was one of several prominent political leaders who joined Congressman Charlie Rangel at his victory party in Harlem last night. Mr. Rangel took note of the fact that both he and Mr. Liu have faced their share of financial scandals.
“Do we have any of our public officials? Oh, John Liu, come on, this is where the money is,” Mr. Rangel said as he called Mr. Liu on stage, presumably referencing Mr. Liu’s job watching the city coffers rather than the investigation into his campaign contributions. “John has been so dedicated to people.”
Mr. Rangel went on to compare the investigation into Mr. Liu’s campaign to the censure he received from the House in 2010 for ethics violations related to taxes and his fundraising efforts for the center for public service at City College that bears his name.
Charlie Rangel went to vote at P.S. 175 in Harlem this morning and, in a brief press conference afterward, the longtime congressman was dismissive of his opponents, the media and the entire possibility he might lose. Today’s race is seen as potentially the toughest of the congressman’s over forty years in office thanks to the changing demographics of his district. However, Mr. Rangel first replied with a joke when a reporter asked what he’d do if he loses.
“Well, if I lose tonight, I will sleep just like a baby and cry myself to sleep,” he said with a smile.
After a few laughs, the Congressman followed up to say he doesn’t think about losing at all.
“No, no,” said Mr. Rangel. “If you have the spirit that’s necessary to overcome these political obstacles and if you’re fortunate enough to know that they’re not obstacles that you can’t overcome, than the whole attitude, ‘What do I do if I lose?’ never reaches that mental level. It really doesn’t. I would find some way to tell you if I thought it did.”
Congressman Charlie Rangel is trying to use a Super PAC that’s backing his opponent State Senator Adriano Espaillat to his own advantage. The Politicker received a mailer from Mr. Rangel at our Washington Heights bureau in which the congressman encourages people to give him their votes because of the Super PAC’s support for his rival.
“Pinned down on the battlefield in Korea, Charlie Rangel decided to devote himself to public service if God let him survive. And he’s never stopped fighting for us,” the mailer says. “But now right-wing Tea Partiers from Texas are trying to stop him by telling us how to vote–and its time to fight back.”
Congressman Charlie Rangel didn’t want to discuss who will succeed him in the House of Representatives.
“Is this an obituary?” he asked during a sometimes combative phone interview on Monday afternoon, which the longtime lawmaker described as a “rough one.”
“I’m 81-years-old, you want me to discuss what happens in three years? At the end of this year plus two. Would that make sense at all?” he asked.
Rather than deciding whom to anoint as heir, the outspokenly liberal octogenarian is facing what could be the closest campaign of his more than forty year career, while simultaneously coping with fading health and the waning power of the political empire he built in Harlem.
To hear Charlie Rangel tell it, he received his congressional district in 1970 as a birthday present from Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Mr. Rangel described his gift from the governor in a little noticed portion of his 2007 autobiography, And I Haven’t Had a Bad Day Since. It’s an interesting tale to revisit in light of the current race for Mr. Rangel’s seat and the furor over the shape of the district that defined this year’s redistricting process.
It was a summer day and the man who is now the fourth most senior in the the House of Representatives was in his second term as a New York State assemblyman and preparing to make a run for Congress against a powerful incumbent, Adam Clayton Powell. Mr. Rockefeller called Mr. Rangel to an office in the State Capitol building in Albany.
“There were all these guys on the floor poring over a map of the state of New York. They had slide rules and string, and grease pencils and data about the population of the various counties and cities from the recent census,” Mr. Rangel wrote. “They were actually drawing the congressional district reapportionment lines for the 1970 elections.”
Mr. Rockefeller smiled, wished him happy birthday and handed him a pencil.
“I proceeded to draw myself a wicked district in Manhattan,” Mr. Rangel wrote.
Charlie In Charge
Former DNC political director Clyde Williams faced two challenges to the 6,000 petition signatures he obtained to get on the ballot in the congressional race for Upper Manhattan’s 13th district that he blamed on “associates” of the incumbent, Charlie Rangel. Those objections have expired and Mr. Williams said he’s going to be on the ballot without issue.
“Thousands of residents who signed my petitions participated in the electoral process and now their voices will be heard. I will be on the ballot on June 26,” Mr. Williams told The Politicker. “We now enter a new phase of the race and I look forward to continuing to engage voters and share ideas for the future of this community.”
Congressman Charlie Rangel appeared on former Governor David Paterson’s show today to discuss his re-election bid and his health following two months where he was in and out of the hospital.
“I’m charged up, I’m ready to go,” Mr. Rangel said when asked about his health. “I’m pretty excited about how far the president has gone with what he’s got to work with.”
Mr. Rangel went on to explain he finds the Republican presidential candidates “frightening” because they were able to “get as far as they’ve gotten” with “so little talent.”
“I was a little worried about the congressman until he started attacking the Republican candidates for president, then I figured out his health was fine,” joked Mr. Paterson, a longtime friend and ally of the congressman.