Despite Ethics Cloud, Rangel Cruises to Renomination

Posted September 14, 2010 at 10:49pm

Embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), who faces a looming House ethics trial, fended off a handful of primary challengers to secure his party’s nomination for a 21st term Tuesday.

With 59 percent of precincts reporting, Rangel had 53 percent when the Associated Press called the contest. His closest challenger was Adam Clayton Powell IV, who secured 25 percent of the vote. Powell is the son of former Rep. Adam Clayton Powell (D), whom Rangel ousted in the 1970 Democratic primary.

Rangel is heavily favored to win re-election in November in the staunchly Democratic, Harlem-based 15th district. Still, his victory Tuesday will be viewed as a loss in some Democratic corners because it will help keep his ethics issues in the spotlight during the battle for control of the House this fall.

An ethics subcommittee in July charged Rangel with 13 counts of wrongdoing, including allegations that he misused federal resources to solicit donations for a City College of New York center named in his honor, accepted a rent-stabilized apartment for his campaign office, failed to pay taxes on a Dominican Republic villa and filed inaccurate financial disclosure forms.

Republicans have worked to make Rangel a symbol of corruption within the Democratic Party and to turn his ethics case into a state and national campaign issue.

Meanwhile, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D), the only other New York Member who faced a primary threat Tuesday, easily beat back a well-funded challenge from hedge fund attorney Reshma Saujani.

Maloney led 81 percent to 19 percent with just 35 percent reporting when the AP called the race.

While almost everyone in her party was busy blaming Wall Street for the country’s economic troubles this year, Saujani ran on a pro-financial industry platform that helped her gain traction with many wealthy voters who work in downtown Manhattan and live in the East Side-based 14th district.

Saujani, a former fundraiser for Hillary Rodham Clinton, pulled in more than $1.4 million for her campaign and forced Maloney to spend $2 million in what became a nasty primary fight. Late in the campaign, President Bill Clinton stepped in to endorse the Congresswoman.

Maloney should cruise to victory in November, but she may want to keep an eye on 2012, because Saujani is already making noise about another Congressional run.