To no one's surprise but to quite a bit of ennui, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) has officially announced that he is running for a 21st term in Congress, representing upper Manhattan. His announcement rally, like voter turnout in the district, was not overwhelming. It did attract Gov. David Paterson, an under-fire lame duck son of one of the congressman's political allies, and Keith Wright, a member of the state legislature and son of the late, outspoken Judge Bruce Wright. But even some of the congressman's staff members and longtime supporters quietly say he should not run again.
Rangel, who turns 80 on June 11, has been under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for nearly two years for financial improprieties that he has variously explained as his wife's failure to file certain documents or some junior aides' incompetence. As head of the House Ways and Means Committee, which handles the nation's finances, he had been expected to be more responsible. He stepped aside as chairman when questions mounted not just from Republicans but also from his fellow Democrats. He said he does not know which of his questionable financial transactions are serious or not serious. He prefers to focus on his record since 2009.
''He Delivers'' is his campaign slogan, and he is touting his success in having 11 bills enacted into law during the last term, ranging from naming a building to providing ''customs support services to Haiti.''
''I would like to believe that counts for something,'' he told reporters after the announcement. He recently told The Root: ''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.''
At least a half dozen people have indicated plans to run against Rangel, but they do not have to make it official until July.
E.R. Shipp won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1996.