Charlie Rangel Declares a Narrow Victory, But Adriano Espaillat Won't Concede

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Rangel in a 2012 campaign against homophobia.
After serving in the United States House of Representatives for an unbroken 43 years, 84-year-old Congressman Charlie Rangel has won yet another term, defeating Democratic primary challenger and New York State Senator Adriano Espaillat. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, WNYC's election results show Rangel as the winner, with 47 percent of the vote to Espaillat's 43 percent, or roughly 1,800 votes. But Espaillat has refused to concede, saying there are still absentee ballots that need to be counted. There are, but that's probably not going to help him out much.

Espaillat, 59, previously challenged Rangel in 2012, who still managed to squeeze out a narrow victory, defeating the younger man by less than 1,100 votes. That was particularly impressive given that his 2010 censure by the House was still fairly fresh in voters' minds. Rangel was censured for failing to pay taxes on a villa in the Dominican Republic, and for hoarding four rent-stabilized apartments, one of which he illegally used as a campaign office. Espaillat challenged the election results for more than a week after the June 26 election in 2012 before eventually conceding defeat.

The other challengers in this year's race didn't fare particularly well, although Pastor Michael Walrond, who lives in New Jersey but has a church in Harlem, still garnered about 1,000 votes, enough to slightly tamper with Rangel's lead. Meanwhile, Bronx activist Yolanda Garcia, who mainly made news for claiming that someone in the Espaillat campaign had come to her house to threaten her in the middle of the night, won barely over 200 votes.

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Eight Reasons Why Congress Offers the Worst Job in America

Categories: Congress, Longform

Scott Anderson
Imagine, in a moment of suspended belief, that your job pays 174 grand a year. And comes with a $1.3 million expense account. And a staff of eighteen Ivy League yes-men whose sole duty is to bray loud and wide about the miracle that is you -- when they're not babysitting your kids or fetching your dry cleaning, that is.

You get free travel to anywhere on the globe. A private dining room and a private gym replete with swimming pool, sauna and steam bath.

Best of all, you're only required to show up for the equivalent of four months per year.

Former congressman Tom Tancredo had this life for a decade. By the time it was over, he'd caught that affliction known to anyone who hates his job: a fear of Monday mornings. "As I drove to work, I'd get a knot in my stomach, and it would just start to grow," Tancredo says.

Here's why:

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Damn You, Congress for Making Gov. Christie Look Utterly Logical and Completely Admirable

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First and foremost, screw Congress for delaying its vote on the proposed Hurricane Sandy relief bill. Secondly, and far from foremost, screw Congress for continuing to make New Jersey Governor Chris Christie universally admirable.

Past love or disdain for Christie aside, the governor has displayed guts and bold leadership in the aftermath of Sandy. Most politicians are going to say the right things in the wake of a difficult tragedy, but most wouldn't throw political allegiances and grievances on the back burner in the manner that Christie has.

"Last night, my party was responsible for this," Christie said at a news conference earlier this afternoon. "This used to be something that was not political. Disaster relief was something that you didn't play games with, but now in this current atmosphere everything is the subject of one-upmanship. Everything is a possibility, a potential piece of bait for the political game."

Sounds like it would be a no-brainer decision for politicians to put the interests of hundreds of thousands of people devastated by a hurricane before partisan politics. But that wasn't the case for the House Republicans who delayed last night's anticipated vote on a $60 billion Sandy relief package.

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NY GOP Wants Investigation Into Rep. Steve Israel's Sketchy Mortgage "Bailout"

Categories: Bailouts, Congress
Congressman Steve Israel
The New York Post ran an "exclusive" story yesterday suggesting that Long Island Congressman Steve Israel's 2008 support of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) for financially strapped banks is the reason he was granted a "bailout" on the mortgage for his Dix Hills home.

The bank that holds Israel's mortgage -- and approved the "bailout" for his mortgage -- is J.P. Morgan Chase, which received $25 billion from the federal government as part of the Israel-approved bank bailout.

Obviously, this arrangement has led to a few questions for the Democratic lawmaker -- and New York Republicans are pouncing on the story, calling on the House Ethics Committee to investigate Israel's shady arrangement.

"The Congressman has taken advantage of his position to qualify for a debt reduction that is supposed to be reserved for hard working families that are experiencing a financial set back," New York GOP Chairman Ed Cox says. "It is not for a congressman that wants to avoid his obligations and a personal financial loss."

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Rep. Barney Frank Breaks Down the Same-Sex Marriage Barrier in Congress

In 1981, as the booming gay culture was being hit with the AIDS epidemic and a rising conservative culture in Washington, Barney Frank, a young Democrat from Massachusetts, entered Congress. Six years later, he became the first elected official on the Hill to voluntarily tell the public about his homosexuality. His statement shook the Moral Majority at the time and laid the path for more Representatives to announce that they would work on behalf of the American people and out of the closet.

But yesterday, Frank commandeered another major victory for Congressional gay politics: in Newton, Massachusetts - the first state in the nation to allow homosexual couples to grow old with each other - the now 72-year-old elected official became the first member of the legislative chambers to enter into a same-sex marriage with his long-term partner and Massachusetts shop-owner, Jim Ready. 

In a close-knit ceremony, officiated by Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick, the bridegrooms tied the knot on their 7-year-long relationship, which started back in 2005, when Frank met Ready at a political fundraiser. Although it was small, the attendees were federally star-studded: House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Represenatative Dennis Kucinich and Senators John Kerry and Steny H. Hoyer were all in attendance.

Although Barney is out of Congress in November due to his decision to not seek re-election after being in there for over 25 years, the gay rights achievement signifies a same-sex marriage domino effect across Washington that will not end at Congress's doorstep.

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The 'Black/Gay' Divide Continues, as Pro-Gay Marriage Hakeem Jeffries Beats Anti-Gay Charles Barron 3 to 1

Steven Thrasher
Jeffries beat Barron 3:1
Hakeem Jeffries beat Charles Barron nearly three to one yesterday in the Democratic primary for the open Eighth Congressional District seat being vacated by Ed Towns.

We've been watching this race closely for a few reasons. First, we couldn't help it. Living in Fort Greene, we've gotten a good 30 direct mail leaflets from Jeffries (sometimes up to five a day of the identical one).

Also, we were curious (as this is also Toure's district) how the black, pro-gay marriage Jeffries would fare against the black, anti-gay marriage Barron.

Just like Toure predictedLo and behold, the pro-gay marriage candidate won 72 to 28.

Of course, there were many other issues at play. Jeffries had money behind him (much of it charter school money) and we saw five people leafleting for him outside of Brooklyn Tech to Barron's zero. But it's interesting to see the trend continue of black elected officials (and black voters, in the significantly black district) going to office who support same-sex marriage equality.

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Adam Clayton Powell IV Endorses Charlie Rangel: 'We've Always Been Friends...Even When I Ran Against Him'

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Sam Levin
Adam Clayton Powell IV and Charlie Rangel on 125th Street today.
It's just politics!

That's how Adam Clayton Powell IV brushed aside questions today about why he is endorsing longtime Congressman Charlie Rangel for re-election -- after running against him (and thus frequently and harshly criticizing him) in a crowded race two years ago.

In one of the most watched local congressional races, Rangel, the incumbent who has held his Harlem seat for 40 years, is facing tough opposition in the primary as he fights to be re-elected to Congress to represent a newly-drawn district that now includes parts of the Bronx and has a larger Latino population.

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Bloomberg Doesn't Endorse Charlie Rangel (But Reminds Reporters That He Has in the Past)

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Sam Levin
Mayor Bloomberg taking questions from reporters outside City Hall today.
Mayor Mike Bloomberg today declined to give an endorsement to Charlie Rangel, a longtime incumbent fighting to keep his Harlem seat in one of the more heated congressional races in New York City this election season.

But the mayor still had (somewhat) nice things to say, and left the door open for a possible endorsement closer to voting day.

Rangel, 81, is facing what is shaping up to be the toughest opposition he has encountered since the 1970s, including campaigns from State Senator Adriano Espaillat and Clyde Williams, who is a former political director of the Democratic National Committee.

Today, a reporter asked Bloomberg -- who was at City Hall to discuss the new bike share program -- for his thoughts on Rangel's candidacy, noting that Espaillat has nabbed the endorsement of former Bronx borough president Fernando Ferrer, who was also a Democratic mayoral nominee in 2005.

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Rory Lancman on Shakeup in Congressional Race: 'It's Political Musical Chairs'

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Sam Levin
Rory Lancman in Queens today.
Congressional candidate Rory Lancman said today he's staying focused on the issues -- but didn't miss an opportunity to slam his opponents in the increasingly crowded -- and reliably colorful -- race to replace longtime Congressman Gary Ackerman.

Today, the Daily News reported that Jeffrey Gottlieb, a Board of Elections employee who recently entered the Queens Congressional race, is dropping out. Gottlieb, a Jewish candidate, was rumored to be a plant in the race to siphon Jewish votes away from Lancman in support of Assemblywoman Grace Meng, who is the candidate of choice of the Queens Democratic Party. Gottlieb is apparently being replaced by a new candidate, Stephen Green, a Rosedale attorney.

The news gave fuel to Lancman's criticisms that Gottlieb was only in the race to hurt Lancman and help Meng -- who Gottlieb had collected signatures for before he entered the race.

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Four Expected Mayoral Candidates Endorse Grace Meng. Where is Scott Stringer?

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Sam Levin
Grace Meng, standing in front of Bill Thompson, John Liu, Christine Quinn, and Bill de Blasio, four mayoral hopefuls who endorsed her at City Hall today.
Assemblywoman Grace Meng, who is running for Congress in a crowded race, nabbed the endorsement today of four pols who hope to be the next mayor of New York City.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Comptroller John Liu, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and former comptroller Bill Thompson stood on the steps of City Hall under the hot sun this afternoon to endorse Meng, who is the candidate of choice of the Queens Democratic Party and who would be New York's first Asian-American member of Congress if elected.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, another mayoral hopeful, was notably absent.

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