New York: Super PAC Takes Aim at Charlie Rangel

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted May 8, 2012 at 8:30am

The Campaign for Primary Accountability, a nonpartisan super PAC that has successfully targeted incumbents this cycle by supporting primary challengers, will next turn its substantial financial resources against longtime Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.).

The group announced it “will make independent expenditures opposing Rep. Rangel and supporting state Sen. Adriano Espaillat.” Super PAC spokesman Curtis Ellis wouldn’t specify how much the CPA would spend against Rangel, but he noted that in its previous efforts, the group usually spends six-figure sums in its races.

Espaillat is Rangel’s top opponent in the Democratic primary with a handful of other lesser-known candidates. The population in Rangel’s current Harlem-based seat is 46 percent Hispanic. In the reconfigured seat, tweaked in redistricting by a federal judge, the population is now more than 55 percent Hispanic. That is likely to give a boost to Espaillat, who, if elected to represent the safe Democratic seat, would become the first person of Dominican descent voted into Congress.

Rangel’s difficulties this cycle are not only demographic but also personal: He is 81 and has missed a number of recent votes in Congress because of an injury. And the ethical questions that loomed over past cycle are here to stay: A censure for ethics violations is not quickly forgotten.

“Senator Espaillat’s solid record and proven popular support make him a strong, credible challenger who will work for the people of his district when he goes to Congress,” the super PAC said in its release. “Espaillat represents a new generation and brings a fresh perspective sorely needed in Washington.”

Espaillat got a big boost Monday with the endorsement of Fernando Ferrer, the influential former Bronx Borough president. The CPA’s announcement adds to Espaillat’s momentum and brings added pressure on Rangel, who has insisted he plans to run for a 22nd term.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked Monday whether President Barack Obama would endorse Rangel this cycle.

“I’ll have to get back to you on that,” Carney said.

The New York primary is scheduled for June 26.