Former Governor David Paterson, who took the state’s top executive post after Eliot Spitzer suddenly resigned amid a prostitution scandal, says he might not be done with politics just yet.
“I love public service. I love the people who do it,” Mr. Paterson answered this morning when asked whether he’d run for veteran Congressman Charlie Rangel’s seat if the incumbent retired. “I would listen to people.”
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.
Yesterday evening, socially conservative Democratic mayoral candidate Rev. Erick Salgado’s campaign sent out a press release announcing a breakfast in East Harlem this morning featuring “community leaders rallying support for Erick Salgado,” including Congressman Charlie Rangel. The event seemed an odd choice for the staunchly liberal veteran congressman and when we called his office to see whether he would indeed be attending they insisted he hadn’t heard of Mr. Salgado and that the breakfast wasn’t on his schedule. In spite of this, Mr. Salgado’s campaign insisted Mr. Rangel would actually be at their breakfast. The congressman called Politicker this morning to set the record straight and, according to him, it seems both his office and the Salgado campaign were partially correct.
“Edwin [Marcial], who happens to be–I understand now–the campaign manager of this Salgado, is an old El Barrio friend of mine. He came to see me a couple weeks ago and he wanted to have coffee with me and I don’t know how to say ‘no’ to an old-timer and I said, ‘I’d be glad to,’” Mr. Rangel explained. “I was surprised to see that there was a flier talking about this fellow Salgado and that Reverend Senator Díaz and I was going to be there and it went on talking about him. I called Marcial, I told him that I wasn’t thinking about meeting any candidate. I’ve never heard Erick Salgado and I would not be able to attend any breakfast in support of him.”
Earlier this evening, conservative Christian Pastor Erick Salgado’s campaign announced a breakfast event for his Democratic mayoral bid tomorrow in East Harlem that would feature “community leaders … rallying support for Erick Salgado.” The event’s press release claimed two local Democratic officials, veteran Congressman Charlie Rangel and Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, would “be in attendance.” However, Hannah Kim, Mr. Rangel’s spokeswoman, told Politicker the congressman has no plans to attend the breakfast and isn’t even aware of Mr. Salgado.
“The Congressman doesn’t know anything about this candidate at all,” Ms. Kim said. “This event is not on his schedule.”
Charles in Charge
Earlier today, President Barack Obama held a press conference to decry the upcoming sequestration–steep automatic budget cuts set to occur in just ten days unless a debt deal is reached–as a “meat cleaver” that will cut essential services and harm the military. And in a subsequent MSNBC interview, veteran Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel weighed in on the topic and took his criticism even further, declaring the entire country “is embarrassed by this whole thing.”
“Before it was, ‘Protect the top 1 percent and don’t increase their tax rates.’ Now they’re saying, ‘If anything else is wrong with the tax system, don’t correct it if it means raising revenue,’” Mr. Rangel said, characterizing and dismissing the Republicans’ negotiating position. “That doesn’t make any sense!”
Earlier this week, Congressman Charlie Rangel made headlines when he blasted the lack of diversity in President Obama’s Cabinet. In a roundtable with reporters yesterday evening where he weighed in on a variety of topics, Mr. Rangel also criticized the Republican Party for not being diverse enough. Mr. Rangel brought up the issue while he discussed his belief the country needs to be more open to immigrants and posited there are many conservative opponents to immigration reform because the G.O.P. and its constituents are not sufficiently diverse.
“All you have to do is take a picture of Republicans and a picture of Democrats and it’s as though you’re talking about two different countries,” Mr. Rangel said.
Politicker asked the congressman for his take on the African-American members of the Republican Party.
Congressman Charlie Rangel sat down with a small group of reporters yesterday for a wide-ranging discussion at his office. One of the main topics was the brewing battle over the debt ceiling and Politicker asked the congressman for his take on the idea President Barack Obama can avoid a fight with congressional Republicans who won’t raise the debt cap by having the Treasury Department mint a $1 trillion coin.
“I’m working on the design, one for the president and one for me,” Mr. Rangel said with a smile.
We wondered whether that meant he wanted to see his portrait depicted on the coin.
“No, I want one of the coins,” the congressman responded as the assembled reporters laughed. “The president gets one, he puts it in the treasury. I get one, I keep it. Makes sense to me.”
Earlier in the conversation, Mr. Rangel criticized Republicans who have said they will not vote to raise the debt ceiling without spending cuts because he said they are solely focused on slashing “so-called entitlements” that are social programs for “vulnerable” portions of the population.
What You Should Know
State Senator Ruben Diaz sent a special New Year’s-themed edition of his regular “What You Should Know” email newsletters this morning. In his year-end missive, Mr. Diaz took a series of shots at the State Senate with backhanded “political wishes” for the new IDC/GOP leadership coalition, “Uncle Tom” State Senator Malcolm Smith and State Senator Adriano Espaillat.
Councilman Robert Jackson is rolling out his high-profile allies in the Harlem political establishment to help him celebrate his birthday and raise money for his bid to be Manhattan borough president later this month. Former Mayor David Dinkins sent out an email this afternoon announcing a fundraiser and birthday celebration for Mr. Jackson that he will be attending along with Congressman Charlie Rangel, State Senator Bill Perkins and Councilwoman Inez Dickens on December 17.
“Robert Jackson is an effective and energetic fighter who understands the challenges we face in this borough and has proven that he can get the job done,” Mr. Dinkins wrote. “He has been a strong, hard-working, progressive leader in the City Council, and I have great confidence that he will continue to advocate for measures that promise to improve the lives of all the people of the Borough of Manhattan.”
In The Heights
Northern Manhattan, the highest point of the island, largely escaped the kind of devastation Hurricane Sandy caused elsewhere in the five boroughs, however residents and politicians from the area are pitching in with a storm relief telethon this afternoon that will be broadcast on La Mega radio station and at least three Spanish-language cable television outlets. The telethon includes planned appearances by the New York Yankees’ star second baseman Robinson Cano, several of the likely 2013 mayoral candidates and a slew of area politicos.
“Although Upper Manhattan has been spared by the storm, we recognize our responsibility to help fellow New Yorkers,” State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who organized the event, said in a statement. “The Uptown Cares Telethon will directly help raise funds for victims on Staten Island and around the City.”