Despite strong fundraising numbers, a well-organized campaign and his experience working in national politics, former DNC political director Clyde Williams is generally seen by insiders as a likely third place finisher behind State Senator Adriano Espaillat and Rep. Charlie Rangel in the race for Upper Manhattan’s newly redrawn 13th congressional district. However, Mr. Williams told The Politicker he’s confident about his chances when we caught up with him last night as he met with voters in rapper Doug E. Fresh’s Harlem restaurant, Doug E.’s Chicken & Waffles.
“I feel very good,” Mr. Williams said. “I don’t particularly say I know exactly what the breakdown is going to be, but based on what we’ve done, our own analysis, we feel good about where we are. We know where our voters are, we plan on getting them to the polls.”
Hair Force One
This afternoon, President Barack Obama had lunch at Kenny’s BBQ Smokehouse in Washington. Among the guests were two barbers who are participating in “Fatherhood Buzz,” a campaign started by the Department of Health and Human Services to connect men at barbershops with information designed to help strengthen their families. Barbers in several cities around the country are participating in the program. Here in New York, one of the participating locations is Denny Moe’s Superstar Barbershop in Harlem. The Politicker spoke with Denny Moe himself who explained why he thinks barbershops are the perfect location for community outreach.
“In the barbershop, you could talk about just about anything….You’d be surprised how many people open up to us, because we can talk about certain health disparities and certain types of things that are going on in the neighborhood,” Mr. Moe said. “If you go to a doctor and the doctor tells you something is wrong with you, even if he has something wrong with him, he’s not going to share that with you….As a barber, if I’ve got something going on too, I’m going to tell you. I’m going to say I’m experiencing that same situation. It may be prostate problems or high blood pressure buildup, I’m going to share that with you. You’re going to feel like you’re amongst a peer and you can let loose. That’s how it goes down in the barbershop.”
Assemblyman Guillermo Linares will endorse longtime Congressman Charlie Rangel’s re-election bid tomorrow at noon. Mr. Rangel’s campaign announced the endorsement this evening via an email. Mr. Linares initially pledged to support one of Mr. Rangel’s challengers, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, however, last month, he appeared at an event with Mr. Rangel stoking speculation he might be preparing to switch sides.
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
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.
Ruben Dario Vargas, a self-described “Northern Manhattan community activist” who has run multiple unsuccessful campaigns for public office, is throwing his hat into the crowded campaign for the 13th congressional district, where Charlie Rangel is running for re-election. Based on his past performance running for the seat, Mr. Vargas is unlikely to be a major threat in the race, but his entry will strip State Senator Adriano Espaillat of his status as the only Latino candidate in a district with a majority Latino population.
A man named Angel Molina is challenging incumbent Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito for her seat in the 8th district, which includes East Harlem, Central Park and portions of the Upper West Side and the Bronx. Mr. Molina, who recently filed to form a campaign committee to run for the seat, also has a website where he identifies fighting education spending cuts and raising the minimum wage as his the main issues on his platform.
“My commitment to social justice and growing up in a poor neighborhood gives me a distinct cultural perspective that I often use as my ethical compass to provide benefit to my community,” Mr. Molina said in a statement announcing his candidacy on his site.
Vince Morgan, a former staffer for Congressman Charlie Rangel, will officially announce his decision to depart the race against his former boss today. Mr. Morgan is giving his endorsement to another one of Mr. Rangel’s challengers, Adriano Espaillat.
“We’re thrilled to have Vince Morgan’s endorsement. It’s yet another sign that Adriano’s message of bringing bold, new ideas to Congress is resonating in all corners of the district,” a spokesman for Mr. Espaillat, Ibrahim Khan, told The Politicker.
Congressman Charlie Rangel is back in the hospital for the second time this month. Mr. Rangel’s spokeswoman, Hannah Kim, told The Politicker the congressman is still coping with a back injury that has kept him out of the House of Representatives since February 9, his longest absence in at least ten years.
“The Congressman is receiving additional treatments for his back. He is optimistic that the situation will be resolved soon,” Ms. Kim said.