The once-powerful New York Congressman puts on a brave front. Would-be successors have lined up to unseat him.
Jonathan Tasini, a union activist and writer who is challenging Rangel, has issued a statement urging Rangel to end his re-election bid. "By announcing that he will not stand for re-election, Rep. Rangel will allow the people of the 15th Congressional District to choose a new congressman who will be able to spend 100 percent of his or her time defending the interests of the people, not his own political career. Our party must be clear -- we must not allow even the hint of impropriety to be part of our ranks. The people, the voters, are sick and tired of dysfunction. They are fed up with corruption -- real and moral. They want leaders who they can trust."
Vincent Morgan, a community banker who once worked for Rangel, said he is saddened by the current situation, but he, too, thinks Rangel should retire now with his head held high and while he is still able to impart his institutional knowledge to someone of the younger generation -- preferably Morgan. "This would be a great time for him to do the right thing for the people of this district and invest in the next generation of leadership," said Morgan, who is 41. "We have a tendency in our community to wait for the retirement party or the memorial service before we start planning for the future. I think that's unfair, and I think that we need to start planning for the future now."
E.R. Shipp won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1996.