Rep. Charlie Rangel Releases Rap Song For Votes, Faces Tough Primary Battle

June 24, 2014  |  

Harlem Congressman Charles Rangel, 84, will stop at nothing to topple his rival, New York State Senator Adriano Espaillat — even if it takes releasing a rap song. “Turn up!” and “Vote for the Rangel!” the catchy chorus shouts.  The question is: Will this be enough to win him enough votes in today’s tough primary?

Rangel has had his Congressional seat since 1971, when Nixon was president — yep, that long.  He’s the third-longest serving member of the House and Rangel’s not ready to give it up. Back in the day, winning re-election had been a breeze for “Charlie” (as he is affectionately called by constituents). But Espaillat, a Dominican-born candidate, is now making him work for it.

“Back in the day, he did well. He was a representative people went to and got things done,” Espaillat told CBS Evening News. “But he ran into trouble along the way and he hasn’t really produced.”

The “trouble” Espaillat is referring to is Rangel’s 2010 censure — the most severe punishment, next to expulsion, that a House member can receive. Rangel was found guilty of 11 ethics violations. After a two-year investigation into his personal finances, his offenses included accepting a rent-stabilized apartment from a New York City developer and failing to pay taxes on his rental villa in the Dominican Republic, The New York Times reports.

That revelation was a setback; Rangel almost lost his seat in the 2012 primary against Espaillat, but Charlie grabbed it back by the hair of his chin, beating Espaillat by only 1,100 votes. Today, Espaillat is determined to dethrone Rangel.

“I think that new voters, new folks that have moved to the 13th Congressional district want to see new energy and a new vision. I think they want a break from the past. They want a new opportunity for this neighborhood,” Espaillat told CBS.

But Rangel believes Espaillat’s campaign only hinges on ethnic loyalty: “Just what the heck has he done besides saying he’s a Dominican?” he asked. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio encouraged the candidates to stay away from that sort of “racial politicking” after Rangel made the statement.

Since Rangel has been a House member, the district that he serves — which encompasses upper Manhattan and parts of Bronx — has become increasingly Latino. In 1990, Blacks made up 50 percent of the area. Today, the district is 54 percent Hispanic, 27 percent Black, and 13 percent White.

Perhaps Rangel’s rap, which rhymed “You know Charlie? He was born in Harlem, got a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, earned ’em in the Army,” would have better suited with a Bachata or Merengue beat.

According to a poll, Rangel is ahead of Espaillat by 13 points. Polls close in NYC at 9pm.

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