Charlie Rangel For Congress: How Does He Do It?

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Rep. Rangel -- his last run?

A poll this past week shows Rep. Charles Rangel leading his leading Democratic Challenger State Senator Adriano Espaillat by 13 points.

Rangel's lead represents a four-point increase from a month ago. The Democratic primary, which essentially determines the winner, is Tuesday.

How does he do it?

Two years ago, hobbled by back-pain and national negative media publicity that accompanied censure by his House of Representatives colleagues Rangel was all but written off by some.

Rangel's troubles cost him the coveted post of chairmanship of the House Ways and Means committee. Many predicted that his then 42 years in Congress at the time would come to an ignoble end. Even President Obama had publicly suggested that it was time for Rangel to retire.

Rep. Rangel barely held on to his seat, beating Espaillat by a mere hundreds of votes. It was seen as a big come-down. Surely he would not embarrass himself by running again. The reasoning was that Espaillat had come so close, and as the 13th Congressional District had become more Latino, Espaillat would certainly beat him this time around.

Yet Harlem's First Senior Citizen once again seems on the verge of confounding critics and detractors. A Korean war veteran Rangel may still have a fox-hole mentality. First survive the artillery barrage and then charge forward.

Rangel has increased his lead among African American voters which now stands at 76 % to 6% for Espaillat, a 7-points surge. The challenger Espaillat once led Rangel by one percentage point with White voters, Rangel has now opened an 8-points lead, according to the Sienna NY1 News Poll of registered likely voters.

While Espaillat, at 53%, enjoys a large lead over Rangel when it comes to Latino voters, Rangel does have a respectable 29% margin of supporters. His backers include his former nemesis and challenger Adam Clayton Powell IV, son of the legendary Congressman, Adam Clayton Powell, whom Rangel unseated 44 years ago in a bitter contest.

Rangel leads by 14 points in the part of the district that's in Manhattan and is the larger portion, up from 10 points; and he leads by 6 points in the section that's in the Bronx, double the previous margin of three. Rangel also leads among voters who are 50 and older by 21 points, a six points uptick from a month ago.

How does he do it?

Most importantly, voters likely believe that with his over four-decades of experience, Rangel, even with his past challenges and the censure, is in a much better position than Espaillat is, to continue delivering from Washington for people in the district.

In addition to dealing with matters that affect his district, Rangel's voice has also been heard when it comes to international issues that affects all New Yorkers and the world at large. He recently issued a strong statement condemning the election of Sam Kutesa, minister of foreign affairs of Uganda, as the new President of the United Nations General Assembly here in New York. Kutesa serves as a senior cabinet minister in a regime that recently introduced a law that includes life-in-prison for people in same-sex relations; the Uganda law had even considered execution by hanging for Gays.

Rangel is now 84 years old, and he's indicated that this would be his last run --although he's made similar hints in the past. His long time supporters may want him to take a final bow while in office. The polls did show that Espaillat led among voters under 50 years of age.

When he does finally step down, the seat will be wide open to many young contestants.

The Black Star News endorses Rep. Rangel for one final term.



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