Charlie In Charge
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.”
“Is the empty seat for the other person who’s running?” an audience member asked the moderator before the candidates running against Congressman Charlie Rangel introduced themselves in Washington Heights last evening.
“Since you asked it now, I’m happy to tell you now,” the moderator responded. “Hudson Heights has called Congressman Rangel’s office repeatedly and we were told a few days ago, and again today, that the congressman would be unable to be here.”
Mr. Rangel himself contested this explanation, insisting that he had never been invited, but regardless, the four challengers to Mr. Rangel in this year’s Democratic primary discussed federal policy issues without the sitting incumbent they are hoping to unseat.
board of elections
In addition to the notable Michael Grimm news at the Board of Elections today, several other challengers saw their fates decided.
Although three of veteran Congressman Charlie Rangel’s challengers, Clyde Williams, Craig Schley, and Joyce Johnson, initially saw objections filed against their signatures, only one, Mr. Schley, had the required specifications filed against his signatures alleging exactly where the validity problems existed.
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.”
On Monday, the five Democrats vying to represent the 13th District submitted petitions to get on the ballot. Today, objectors filed challenges to some of those petitions and former DNC head Clyde Williams accused the incumbent, Charlie Rangel, of “trying to silence the voices of change.”
“Last night, I learned that associates of Charlie Rangel intend to try to block my access to the ballot,” Mr. Williams wrote on his Facebook page. “Some might say a petition challenge is the sincerest form of flattery. But in fact what my opponents are challenging is the right of the people to be heard – trying to silence the voices of change. I will fight this challenge because I – like so many District residents – share a the desire to change our fortunes and seize our future for the better.”
Here and Gone
Sunday night, Ruben Dario Vargas, a community activist who has run multiple unsuccessful campaigns for public office, announced he’d be throwing his hat into the race for Congressman Charlie Rangel’s seat and would be launching his campaign today at noon. However, Mr. Vargas’ campaign ended almost as quickly as it began. At the event that was supposed to be the start of his campaign, Mr. Vargas instead announced he will be dropping out of the race he was in for less than 24 hours and giving his endorsement to another candidate, State Senator Adriano Espaillat.
Adriano Espaillat has raised $62,055 so far in his beat to unseat veteran Congressman Charles Rangel according to his campaign committee’s first quarterly report. While Mr. Espaillat’s haul is hardly massive, the report only includes a few weeks of fundraising since he officially launched his campaign at the beginning of the month. Mr. Rangel also raised a similar amount for the quarter, $67,273, however he spent much of that time in and out of the hospital with what he and his staff have described as a back injury.
The Barack Obama Democratic Club endorsed Adriano Espaillat in his bid for the Congressional seat currently occupied by Charlie Rangel at a candidates forum at the Church of the Intercession on W. 155th Street that featured (almost) all five people running in the race. Mr. Rangel, who has been in and out of the hospital after suffering a back injury last month, was represented by Councilwoman Inez Dickens. The club also endorsed its founder, Mark Levine, for the State Senate seat being vacated by Mr. Espaillat and longtime Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell in his re-election bid.