Battle for the 15th Congressional District
Five are vying (Adam Clayton Powell IV, Vince Morgan, Johnathan Tasini) all Democrats and one Republican Rev. Michael Faulkner for the Congressional seat of embattled incumbent Rep. Charles Rangel. And Powell IV ran and lost to Rangel in the 1994 Congressional race.
His father the late Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. left a legacy some want to preserve in a community that sent him to Congress as the first black from any Northern state since Reconstruction (1865-1877) in a post Reconstruction Era .
In the 1960s, Powell, Jr. denied a seat in the 90th Congress later seated in the 91st continued his legal battle in the case Powell v. McCormack, 395 U.S. 486 (1969) . He represented the constituents of Harlem for 26 years from 1945 to 1971.
The House ethics committee on Thursday released a report lodging 13 charges against Rep. Rangel with a public trial set for sometime in September the Democratic Party, including President Barack Obama saying it’s “troubling,” the fear is Republicans use it in their battle to regain control of the Congress.
Hispanics composed 48% , African-Americans 35%, whites 28% and Asians 3% of the 15th Congressional District, that includes the neighborhoods of Harlem, Inwood, Marble Hill, Spanish Harlem, Washington Heights, Morningside Heights and portions of the Upper West Side.
Yet percentages could be misleading in this all out war for one of the smallest Congressional districts in the nation. What is key to winning the district may come down to the candidate with the most funds and a well-organized political machine to back it up.
Interestingly both Rangel and Powell IV each has a Puerto Rican background, Rangel a father from Ponce who abandoned the family at an early age while Powell born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico is a scion of two families with deep roots in politics. His father is civil rights leader and former Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr., and his grandfather Gonzalo Diago, Mayor of San Juan in the 1940s.
However, some think Powell’s brush with the law in two incidents involving women in 2004 though one case closed and the other recanted and his 2008 DWI case recently ending with a DWI (Impaired) may be a problem for him.
Yet, Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV has the most experience in elected office over his competitors an asset helpful to him with both African-Americans and Latinos voters looking to send their most experienced politicians to Congress during a crucial election year of reapportionment and redistricting after the U.S. Census.
Yet, all this makes for an interesting appeal to the Latino constituents who compose the largest ethnic group in the district. In hindsight, Adam Clayton Powell Diago his former name before he changed it to Adam Clayton Powell IV in 1980 after leaving Puerto Rico to attend Howard University would have been more helpful to him in this race to garner a solid Latino vote, but still Powell might be able to draw upon both groups to give him a political edge.
In the end the battle for the 15th congressional district may come down to “preserving a legacy” that African-Americans have enjoyed through Rangel extending back to the 1970s when he beat Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., allowing him to run for the 21st time to choose his successor. But this strategy may backfire because a trial in September is not sitting well with the head of the Democratic Party President Barack Obama who he would prefer he step down.
For the largest group in the district the Latinos followed by African-Americans the most important question is what candidate will best represent their issues in a time period of redistricting and reapportionment ? And have African-Americans who have held on to the seat for nearly half century served and responded to all of its diverse constituents? Is it time for Adam Clayton Powell IV to reclaim the seat his father lost to Rep. Rangel?
One reader of the blog commented, “while Adam Clayton Powell is the most experienced from all the candidates planning to replace the Honorable Charles Rangel… he has made mistakes that the media will bring back into the forefront once the elections get into full force. I think he is the best candidate for Latinos and for the district as a whole…”
And Adam Clayton Power IV appeared in NYDaily News column Daily Politics as raking up some solid support among Latino elected officials back in April this year, includingAssemblyman Félix Ortiz, (D-Brooklyn).
Nevertheless, with three African-American candidates splitting the vote, the candidacy of labor leader, Johnathan Tasini, a Jewish-American may pick up some steam in a race where ethnicity may prove to be a decisive factor in a Congressional district African-Americans have held since Adam Clayton Power, Jr. in 1945.