A chair for Charlie
Every candidate knows that winning the Bronx is essential to winning the 13th Congressional District seat, which has been redrawn to include Kingsbridge, Kingsbridge Heights, Van Cortlandt Village, Norwood, Bedford Park and University Heights.
Well, almost everybody.
At a debate sponsored by The Riverdale Press, Norwood News and BronxNet and aired on “BronxTalk with Gary Axelbank” on Monday night, there was a single empty seat left for Rep. Charles Rangel.
Mr. Axelbank opened with these words: “We appreciate Mr. Rangel’s stated concern about the Bronx and his busy schedule, but editorially, we cannot condone his absence tonight, especially since Bronx communities are being added to this district for the first time. We believe it his responsibility to participate in this televised forum so that the people of the Bronx can make a fully informed choice among all those who seek to represent them. We reject his excuses and apologies … In plain language, he should be here.”
Last week, Mr. Rangel said he would not be present and after numerous requests to learn why he could not make it, his office gave none other than a “previous engagement.”
But earlier in the evening, he attended a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters in Manhattan. The main topic, according to news reports, was whether Mr. Rangel should even be in the race at all.
Perhaps Mr. Rangel, who has been in and out of the hospital with back issues and missed about three months of work on the hill, knew a long day packed with two debates would be too much to handle.
Perhaps he did not want to answer questions about his ethical mishaps, which ended with him being censured by the House of Representatives for misconduct.
Maybe he’s putting all his eggs in the basket of is upper-Manhattan base at the expense of introducing himself to the Bronx portion of his newly-formed district. Maybe he figures he has a better shot at winning if Bronxites don’t come out to vote at all.
After all, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, a Dominican-American with a campaign office on Kingsbridge Road, has been campaigning heavily in the borough, where he already has the support he garnered when he ran for State Senate in 2010 and where he already has friends like the Ben Franklin Reform Democratic Club at his side.
We are left guessing.
Regardless of the reason for his absence, forsaking our borough during the campaign raises serious questions as to whether Mr. Rangel would represent it well in Congress.
Keywordsopinions, charles rangel, adriano espaillat, craig schley, joyce johnson, clyde williams, debate, bronxnet, bronxtalk, gary axelbank, norwood news, congress, congressional district 13