I really pray that no one does anything stupid between now and Tuesday and forces me to do another real column before the primary is over (though I will almost surely rub out another Gateway).
Anyway, these last two endorsements should hopefully close out this particular primary for me.
13th CD: Two years ago I said:Charlie Rangel has served his country well--let’s give him a gold watch and a nice retirement party. This time, Aretha should make it her business to come.
But, Charlie Rangel has become a national embarrassment and it’s time for triage. I hold out no hope for beating him, but a nice low vote total, hopefully under a majority, would send an effective message.
There is however the matter of how to send it.
Rangel’s main opponent, Adam Clayton Powell, is a disgrace; in a head to head between him and Rangel, I’d endorse Charlie. But there are four other choices. Jonathan Tasini is a leftie loon, while another candidate may actually be certifiable. However, either Vince Morgan or Joyce Johnson would do the trick. Still, one best sends a message by depositing the most votes one can in one place. Between the two, Johnson seems more up to this task; she’s the only woman in the field and has been endorsed by the Times.
Gatemouth endorses Johnson.
Two years ago, it seemed imperative to clean our own house and deprive Republicans of a national issue.
I was ready to support any acceptable candidate who had a shot of beating Rangel, but the only candidate who had a shot of beating Rangel (Mr. Powell) was not acceptable.
If Adriano Espaillat had been running in Mr. Powell’s stead, I would have gladly endorsed him. But that was not the case, so instead, I chose the marginally more plausible of the two acceptable candidates.
Ms. Johnson is running again, and is still acceptable, but there is no real reason to cast a protest vote this, so her relevance has dissipated.
This year is different. Mr. Espaillat is acceptable, and I would gladly support him in a head to head against Mr. Rangel.
Mr. Espaillat has not been a bad legislator, He mostly votes right, and has shown some courage on environmental issues (although he has reaped the benefit of Bloomberg support as a result).
But Espaillat seems to be running for Congress largely on the basis of ethnic cheerleading.
Further, there have been questions raised about a local development corporation Mr. Espaillat funded, and it appears that he may have been using his member items to finance something which essentially functioned as his political clubhouse and extended family (sometimes literally).
However, it cannot be denied that Espaillat’s election would be a victory for Latino empowerment in a majority Latino district.
In the absence of a demonstrably superior non-Latino candidate, I’m inclined to think that cultural affinity with the bulk of one’s constituents is a legitimate quality to be considered.
In the absence of a candidate of demonstrable superiority, I’m inclined to say that the tie should to the Latino.
But there is a demonstrably superior candidate.
His name is Clyde Williams.
What can I say? Mr. Williams has worked in positions of trust for both President Clinton and President Obama and has worked as an aide for my old DC City Councilman, the late lamented John Wilson.
Mr. Williams is smart and talented, with real vision and real accomplishment.
In a delegation with too few stars, he and Hakeem Jeffries would add real heft.
The only real argument besides empowerment for preferring Mr. Espaillat over Mr. Williams is that Espaillat has a better shot of beating Mr. Rangel.
I’m no longer sure that is true.
Mr. Williams has raised and spent more money than anyone else, and since grabbing the Times endorsement has gained a waterfall of support and other endorsements from many sources.
Even if one accepts that Mr. Williams is vote splitter, it seems more likely, given the demographics, that the votes he is splitting are Mr. Rangel’s, so no harm, no foul.
But, even if Mr. Williams is hurting Mr. Espaillat more, I don’t think it matters that much anymore.
Charlie Rangel is no longer a national bludgeon to be bashed by Republicans into the heads of Democratic candidates. He is just a washed up old man wasting valuable space. It would be better if here were gone, but the emergency condition has abated.
In the absence of an emergency, I must recall the words Admiral Rickover spoke to a young Jimmy Carter:
“Why not the best?”
GATEMOUTH ENDORSES CLYDE WILLIAMS.
6th CD: I am missing Gary Ackerman already.
There are three serious candidates in this primary, which will be followed by a serious general election against Councilman Dan Halloran, perhaps the City’s most repugnant Republican elected official (if one disregards the temporary accident of David Storobin).
One candidate, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley is a parochial hack of limited vision and intelligence (though comparing her to Halloran would be like comparing diamonds to excrement).
The other two serious candidates, Rory Lancman and Grace Meng are both members of the Assembly. They are both smart and serious, and both have some record of accomplishment.
Either would be far preferable to Halloran, bit I am not sure who would be the better candidate.
I do worry that Orthodox Jews already voting Republican at the top of the ticket might drop down and vote for Halloran as well. Mr. Lancman would seem in a better position to stop that, though the idea that pro-Israel Orthodox Jews would elect to Congress a man who thinks Ron Paul should be the leader of the free world seems almost unfathomable (of course, so did Bob Turner’s election).
I also worry that Dan Halloran a proven expert at exploiting prejudice against Asians is salivating over the opportunity to take on Grace Meng and talk about “FLUSHING-style overdevelopment. Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more.”
On the other hand, a Meng defeat in the primary might drive down the Asian vote Democrats need to win—although it is hard to picture Asian voters casting their votes for a man like Halloran, who does not judge people by the color his skin, but rather, only by the shape of their eyeballs.
So, as far as electability goes, I think it’s a draw.
There are good things to say about Lancman.
Lancman’s frankness in saying that income over $106,000 should be subject to the Social Security tax is highly refreshing.
But like many good things Lancman does, he found a way to spoil it, with lying demagoguery designed to scare the old folks.
In the end, it is emblematic of a far greater problem with Lancman.
Lancman is one of the most annoying people on the face of the earth.
A man well known for going out of his way to screw other people in order to create for himself a marginal advantage.
It is a testament to Lancman’s formidable intelligence (he’s is often the smartest person in the room—if you don’t believe me, just ask him), that he is able to pass legislation in spite of the fact that people think he’s a dick.
But one can be sure that Lancman’s self-centeredness backed up with a lack of people skills which verges on Asperger’s, have prevented him from doing even better.
At a recent debate, the moderator had just asked a question about an issue Liz Crowley clearly didn’t know anything about. She looked like a deer in the headlights, when Lancman, as always self-absorbed, and as always eager to demonstrate that he was the repository of all wisdom, interrupted to tell the audience everything he knew, not only sparing Crowley embarrassment, but giving her a briefing, which she then regurgitated.
Lancman is a man who actually tells potential opponents they should back him for Congress, because he won’t be there for long and will soon be running for higher office.
He is a man who can attack his opponent for being the product of a corrupt machine (whose endorsement he begged for) seemingly oblivious of his own history of associating with the unsavory.
Grace Meng may be slightly less intellectually gifted than Lancman (but only slightly) and somewhat less visionary, but she is one of the most well-liked people in Albany, and combined with her formidable intelligence and her concern for people other than herself, she will be a far more effective figure in Washington.
The Queens Chronicle disagrees:
The ability to get along well with opposing legislators is nice in theory, but simply not possible in today’s House of Representatives, with its hard-line right-wing leadership. What’s needed is a policy wonk who won’t back down when facing off against the Tea Party caucus pulling the Republican strings.
They misunderstand the problem with Lancman.
The problem isn’t that he won’t be able to get along with Republicans.
The problem with Lancman is that he isn’t able to get along with anyone.
I think Meng is better on the merits, but let’s give Rory credit for the things where credit is due him and call it a tie.
In this district, the tie goes to the Asian woman.
GATEMOUTH ENDORSES MENG