Despite Ethics Probe, Harlem Dem Could Win


NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Congressman Charlie Rangel has served 20 terms – 40 years, or half his life – and he’s still running for re-election in November.

The question these days is, with the ethics cloud hanging over him, can he actually win?

As a 40-year member of the House, Rangel is synonymous with New York politics.

“Charles Rangel is very important for New York,” Reverend Calvin Butts, of Abyssian Baptist Church, said. “He’s responsible for keeping New York in its leadership position in Congress.”

Rev. Butts has known Rangel for 38 years.

“I don’t think he did this intentionally – I think it’s an error,” Rev. Butts said. “I don’t think he deserves to be treated the way he’s been treated.”

The embattled congressman gave up his chairmanship of the House Ways and Means committee in March over ethics issues.

If Rangel were to run again, though, would he be elected?

“I love him to death,” one New Yorker said. And would he vote for him again? “Absolutely.”

While Rangel is known as a Harlem congressman, his district actually stretches from the West Side in the 80s to the top of Manhattan, including Washington Heights and Harlem, touching Queens.

One former supporter said she would no longer vote for Rangel.

“Not pay taxes, apartments at ridiculously low prices, no quid pro quo? Come on,” Patricia Lakin said.

“Good riddance,” one New Yorker said.

“Punish him,” said another resident.

“Power affects people and people feel invincible,” voter Pamela Haylock said.

And would she vote for Rangel now? “Yes, I always did. He was a friend of my grandmother,” she said.

Political consultants told CBS 2 that, certainly, the Rangel brand has been damaged, but if he were to run again, he’d win.

Rangel ranks fourth in seniority among members of the House.

(© MMX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Watch & Listen LIVE