As it turned out, many of the young people walking into the military recruitment center on 125th Street the next day also saw the inconsistency. In general, they thought that it was true that they were not mature enough to make life-or-death decisions on their own before 21. That applied not only to smoking and drinking, but also to combat.

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.”

My take:

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.

Rangel congressional aide intimidated my supporters with ‘PLEASE CONFIRM!’ email: challenger

My story:

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.

NY-15 is getting interesting:

Clyde Williams, the former political director for the Democratic National Committee who is considering a run against Rep. Charlie Rangel, has $125,000 on hand in his exploratory committee, according to a source.

Rangel has more: $250,000 on hand in his campaign account, his spokesman told me yesterday. But Rangel only raised $60,000 in the last three months, compared to Williams, who raised $165,000 in 10 weeks, according to Politico.

"Most of [Williams’] money was raised over the holidays," wrote Trymaine Lee of Huffington Post, who called that “an impressive feat.”

Williams’ donor list indicates support, in spots, from the upper echelons of Clinton and Obama worlds: His contributors include Pete Rouse, a senior adviser to Obama, and Maggie Williams, a longtime Clinton aide who helped run the 2008 presidential campaign after the initial leadership was ousted. There’s also a handful of former Rangel donors who donated to Williams.

Williams told Politico “this was an important milestone for me.”

The fund-raising is an important hurdle and Williams appears to have cleared it easily, arguably making him the most potent threat to Rangel this election cycle. But some other factors could diminish whatever financial momentum Williams has built up. The first is the accelerated election schedule, now that a federal judge moved up congressional primaries in New York to June 26. (One potential Senate candidate already used it as an excuse to bow out of a challenge to Kirsten Gillibrand.) 

The other factor is that the shape of the district is going to drastically change in redistricting and,according to Assemblyman Herman Denny Farrell, it’s being done in order to protect Rangel.