From my story:
Adriano Espaillat is preparing for nuclear war with Charlie Rangel. The only question is whether he’ll push the button.
A spokesman for State Senator Adriano Espaillat confirmed a report they are circulating petitions to get on the ballot and unseat the 21-term congressman, who is an iconic figure in black politics and founding member of the Black Congressional Caucus.
Rangel, 81, is currently suffeing from back problems that forced him to miss votes in Congress. He’s also drawn a number of challengers this year, including former aide Vince Morgan, businesswoman Joyce Johnson, and, possibly, presidential aide Clyde Williams.
Espaillat had called for creating a majority-Latino congressional district next to Rangel’s, and warned that if it didn’t happen, there could be clash between Latinos and blacks.
Speaking to a mostly black audience on 145th Street last weekend, Espaillat, who is Dominican, said, “They increased the Latino population in Charlie Rangel’s existing district to 55 percent, basically setting the ground work of 20 years of nuclear political war.”
Rangel’s record will inevitably be a larger part of the dialogue once the campaign gets going in earnest, in light of his sanctioning before the 2010 election for violating House ethics rules. That’s despite the fact that Rangel managed to turn the negative attention into a rallying cry in the last election among his supporters, who felt he was unfairly abused by critics from outside the district who failed to appreciate his legislative contributions and constituent services. Rangel won easily.
But the video demonstrates what associates of WIlliams say are his key attributes, and perhaps illustrates the sort of campaign he would like to run, ideally, talking about solving problems and steering clear of anything that can be turned into a personality contest by the much-better-known and still well-liked Rangel.
But for [Joyce] Johnson, the whole correspondence was inappropriate, and that the gesture, rather than any particular wording Eaton used, was meant to chase away her supporters.
"When you get a call to say please confirm," Johnson explained, "there’s an implication in it that there are some consequences. Otherwise, why do it?"
A spokesman for Rangel declined to comment.
When he announced that he was running for governor of the State of New York, the two congressmen who stood by his side and were part of his successful campaign were Congressman Charles Rangel and me.