Rep. Charles Rangel was once one of the most powerful men in Congress. He has a distinguished war record and a record of accomplishment over his 42 years in Congress. But two years ago, he admitted to serious “mistakes” and decided to give up his source of power, the position of chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee. He faced a less impressive field of opponents then, so we gave him a marginal endorsement in the hope that better candidates would emerge in 2012.
Our hope has been realized, with two strong candidates in the 13th congressional district’s Democratic primary: State Sen. Adriano Espaillat and Clyde Williams, a man with experience on the national stage as well as in Harlem, still the heart of the newly drawn district.
Our nod goes to Williams, who presents the clearest vision—really a laser-like focus on how to bring more jobs back to the district. With his experience in job and community development in Harlem and elsewhere and with his ties to President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, he has the best chance to be the district’s most effective representative, particularly if the president wins re-election.
We like Williams’ record, his intelligence and his problem-solving skills.
Espaillat has had an admirable career fighting good fights in Albany, but he hasn’t given us a reason to think he will be as effective as Williams in Washington. Although jobs and the economy are important issues to him, they are not his top priority.
Rangel, for his part, did not present us with a clear vision of what he hoped to accomplish in the next two years. He does not appear to have the energy and focus he once did.
Add to that his ethical problems, which are much more serious than “spitting on the sidewalk,” as he described them us. Even if you accept Rangel’s claim that he was railroaded into an unfair admission agreement and censure, he nevertheless is a fallen political star. The president and other Democratic leaders pay a political price if they get too close to him.
He believes the accusations are no longer an issue because he was re-elected overwhelmingly in 2010, but that ignores the fact that the district has changed and many voters are looking at Rangel for the first time.
Much of the Upper West Side has been cut out to include more of the East Side and parts of the Bronx.
The other two candidates in the race, Joyce Johnson and Craig Schley, have not run strong campaigns and did not give us reason to think they could be effective.
Clyde Williams is the best candidate in the race and we endorse him in the June 26 Democratic primary.
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