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Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Political Arena

No-show on ‘BronxTalk’

By Shant Shahrigian
Posted
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
State Sen. Adriano Espaillat and Rev. Michael Walrond next to an empty seat representing Rep. Charles Rangel at a debate aired on Monday, June 16.

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”

One way or another, that’s the way it seems with Rep. Charles Rangel’s second consecutive absence from a “BronxTalk” debate between the 13th congressional district’s Democratic primary candidates.

During a recent interview, Mr. Rangel said he had wanted to participate in a debate in the Bronx, but that he first heard of the June 13 taping when the show’s moderator, Gary Axelbank, saw the congressman at Lehman College on Wednesday, June 11 and said he was looking forward to seeing Mr. Rangel on Friday of that week.

“I said, see you where Friday?” Mr. Rangel recounted. “I didn’t know who he was or where he was talking about. And I didn’t really find out until the last minute that he had reason to believe I knew. But quite frankly, I really enjoy the debates.”

Mr. Axelbank was not amused.

“His absence for the second time… cannot be excused,” the host said of Mr. Rangel at the start of the debate. “In a borough that insists on respect and consideration, Congressman Rangel has afforded none.”

Mr. Axelbank said earlier this month, Rangel supporter Charlie King had confirmed the congressman would come to the debate. But on June 12, the campaign said there was a scheduling conflict the day of the taping. 

It seems completely possible Mr. King was just stringing Mr. Axelbank along; it is also questionable whether Mr. King was actually authorized to speak on Mr. Rangel’s behalf. Mr. King did not immediately answer an e-mail requesting comment.

At any rate, it’s a shame the congressman did not end up meeting his challengers head on to debate over the part of the 13th congressional district that has received far less attention than Upper Manhattan this election cycle.

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