Charlie Rangel Wants One More Round
The Harlem Congressman -- and sometimes chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee -- says he has unfinished business; the challengers say it's time to step down.
Charles Rangel , the more-or-less former chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, says that he is seeking reelection to a 21st term. This is despite the ethical investigations that led him to leave a perch from which his Harlem constituents and others expected him to achieve so much - and despite a growing field of dreamers who want to replace him.
Nearing 80, he is clearly a lion in winter with younger members of the pride nipping at his heels. "The reality is that people are saying that it is time to turn the page for a new chapter in political leadership in northern Manhattan," says Adam Clayton Powell IV, son of the legendary Harlem Congressman that Rangel himself ousted forty years ago. "Everyone knows that change is coming. The question is when and the question is who." Powell is one of several politicians seeking the seat Rangel has held since 1971.
Another would-be challenger, a former aide, says Rangel is merely "a talking suit" doing little for the people of New York's 15th Congressional District, which now extends well beyond Harlem's borders to include predominantly white and Hispanic neighborhoods. "He wants one more go around, then he'll retire. I think it's unfair to put your district behind your own personal ego," says Vince M. Morgan. "This seat belongs to the people. It does not belong to Charlie Rangel."
About a half dozen people are now declaring themselves candidates- though they don't have to make anything official until July. All are campaigning on variations of the question: Why is Charlie running?
To that,Rangel says: "If I didn't run, the question would be ‘Why aren't you running?' I'm running because I think I have a job to do, a job to complete."