1036 Fading Charlie
The Lion of Lenox Avenue lives to roar another day. Seven hundred thirty days, more accurately. But make no mistake about it, this is Charles Rangel’s last term. His win in the primary pretty much assures his win in the general election, though there is a Republican candidate and a Libertarian.
Charlie, looking better than any time in the last year or two, should savor the victory and so should the residents of his newly-configured district. He’s 84 years old, tinged by scandal (more about which in a moment,) and was first elected in 1970.
Working against him this year: The 2010 census reshaped the district to include parts of the Bronx and the population of the new shape is majority-Hispanic. Working for him: too many opponents for anyone to make any headway against a savvy guy with a savvy organization and plenty of money.
Also working for him: enormous popularity in Harlem, where voter turnout is historically high.
Rangel’s constituents don’t much care about his rent-controlled office or the big Cadillac, ethical “challenges,” and all the fodder for the political junkies in Washington and Albany and other places that don’t have a vote.
They still throw flower petals along his path along 125th St. They still see him working the streets when he doesn’t have to. They still see plenty of the results of his seniority. He’s not just a sentimental favorite. He’s a favorite because he brings clout to the clout-less.
But in the era of identity politics, that Hispanic majority is going to put one of its own in office next time.
The New York political establishment (and the Harlem political establishment which is not the same thing) was behind him this time. It won’t be again.
The 2014 campaign is already underway. And while Rangel’s primary foes have “pledged to work with him,” they won’t. He doesn’t need them. And they need him to retire.
This space routinely shows support for this guy, and in that way, nothing has changed.
So congratulations, Charlie. See you for the Gospel Brunch at Sylvia’s.
Shrapnel (Sandusky aftershocks edition):
--The usual high tide of hate mail came rolling in after the Sandusky/Fourth Monkey post of earlier this week. Penn State people are nothing if not loyal. And defensive.
--Headline on the local paper: “Construction Projects Underway to Improve Campus.” Guys, there isn’t a shovel big enough to improve what needs improvement. Later they changed the headline to “Summer Projects Under Way Across Penn State Campus.”
--This may be the right time and place to introduce a new feature by the Associated Wes. That’s the eldest offspring, living far away from the thriving metropolis of State College. He writes:
Jerry Sandusky’s career-long rise to infamy has catapulted him to the top of the breakfast, lunch and dinner menu in prison. And guards cite his bowlegged tiptoeing around the showers looking for soap.
Other stories in the pipeline: Why people wear ties... and the currency market. Stay tuned.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2012