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.”
Last month, The Observer wrote a piece detailing how the New York Times endorsement process works, what the editorial board looks for in a candidate, and how much getting the gray lady’s nod determines who emerges victorious on election day.
Now, with New York’s federal elections only a few weeks away, we take a look at each of the competitive elections on June 26, take a guess at which way the paper will go and deduce what kind of an effect it will have.
Disagree? Make it known in the comments.
U.S. Senate Republican Primary—Bob Turner vs. Wendy Long vs. George Maragos
It is no by means a certainty that The Times will endorse in the GOP Senate primary, and if they do, expect it to be a hold-you-nose-and-vote-for-the-guy-who-is-marginally-better-than-the-rest kind of endorsement. Expect something along the lines of the paper’s endorsement of Mitt Romney in the presidential primary in April, in which they mocked Mr. Romney for abandoning his moderating tendencies and slammed GOP extremism before declaring the Massachusetts governor “the best choice of the field.” For this little noticed Senate race for the right to go up against Kirsten Gillibrand, the paper is likely to go with Bob Turner, a Queens businessman-turned-congressman, who is far less strident in his social views than Wendy Long and more dynamic than George Maragos. Mr. Turner is running very much as the candidate of New York City, and hometown pride may count for something here.
“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.
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.
State Senator Adriano Espaillat officially announced his intention to run for the House of Representatives in Upper Manhattan’s 13th District at a fundraiser for the Barack Obama Democratic Club yesterday ending months of speculation over whether he would challenge veteran Congressman Charlie Rangel. Sources who attended the event said Mr. Espaillat, who would become the first Congressman of Dominican descent if his bid is successful, quoted from J.F.K.’s inaugural address and said “the torch must be passed down to a new generation of Americans.”
Joyce Johnson, a former business executive and Democratic district leader, officially added her name to the mix of contenders hoping to dethrone Charlie Rangel in blog posted on the Huffington Post today.
Ms. Johnson is making her second attempt at the seat Mr. Rangel has held since 1970. In 2010 she garnered the endorsement of The New York Times and finished in a respectable third place with 12 percent of the vote, behind Mr. Rangel’s 51 percent and 24 percent for Adam Clayton Powell IV.
“I’m running for Congress again in 2012 because I continue to believe what I did then: that a brighter future is possible for all of us when we work together and have strong, efficient leaders in place to support us,” Ms. Johnson writes.