Bronx Councilman Oliver Koppell joined on Monday the number of local elected officials taking sides in the hotly contested race for Congressman Charles Rangel’s seat. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
During his run for Congress, State Senator Adriano Espaillat has thus far avoided mentioning Representative Charles Rangel’s ethics violations, which earned him censure on the House floor two years ago.
But longtime Bronx elected official Oliver Koppell, who endorsed Espaillat in Kingsbridge Heights on Monday, did not have reservations.
“I think it's very unfortunate that he was censured. And I think that the censure was based on some things that he didn’t do that he should have, and things that he did that he shouldn’t have,” said Koppell.
Rangel has emphasized his experience, though Koppell, a current City Council member and former state attorney general, points out even Rangel’s seniority isn’t what it used to be.
“He’s now emeritus chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. He’s no longer the chair. And I think that a new voice will be at least as effective,” said Koppell.
The endorsement of Bronx and particularly of Latino politicians are key, as Rangel’s redrawn district now extends into the borough and is majority Hispanic.
Former Bronx Borough Presidents Fernando Ferrer and Adolfo Carrion are backing Espaillat. Current Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is backing Rangel. Bronx Congressman Jose Serrano will announce his support Tuesday.
One person staying out of the race is former President Bill Clinton, who endorsed Rangel last time around. This time, one of his former staffers, Clyde Williams, is also running.
“I would be embarrassed if reporters were asking the president of United States and former presidents, with all that we have to do, what about Charlie Rangel?” the congressman said.
Rangel, who appeared at an Upper West Side community health center Monday for a check presentation, is bouncing back from his back ailment, stepping out in public more often, like at Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s wedding, and no longer using a walker.
Voters can expect to see even more of Rangel in the weeks to come, as the primary date is now just about five weeks away, on June 26. The winner is all but guaranteed to win the election in November in what is a heavily Democratic district.