Charles Rangel to Get Endorsement From Former Rival Adam Clayton Powell IV
HARLEM — It's water under the bridge.
Adam Clayton Powell IV bickered with U.S. Rep Charles Rangel so much during the run-up to the 2010 Democratic Primary that Powell's fellow candidates begged him to ease off.
The former assemblyman called Rangel "corrupt" and vowed to "take him out" as the congressman faced a trial for ethics violations.
But, two years later, the former rivals have made up — to the extent that Powell is set to throw his backing behind Rangel's re-election campaign Wednesday.
The endorsement is set to happen in front of the office building named after Powell's father, located at the intersection of 125th Street and a boulevard also named after his dad.
Back in 2010, Powell said it was time for Rangel to give up the seat he had taken from Powell's father, Adam Clayton Powell Jr, four decades earlier.
He accused Rangel of running solely to choose his own successor.
"We've got to turn the page Charlie. Turn the page," Powell said as the candidates shook hands after a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters in August 2010.
"I don't understand why people want to dance with him when, if you look up the definition of corrupt, you'll know what I mean," Powell said afterward when asked about his repeated antagonism toward Rangel.
Asked why Rangel would want the endorsement of someone who called him corrupt, his campaign spokeswoman Ronnie Sykes said that was in the past.
"That was then and this was now," she said. "That was two years ago. Things change, time flies."
Powell went after Rangel in the 2010 race despite being found guilty of driving while impaired in March 2010.
This year, Rangel, a 21-term incumbent, is facing his toughest re-election battle ever. State Sen. Adriano Espaillat and Clyde Williams, a former advisor to Presidents Obama and Clinton, have been able to match Rangel's usually robust fundraising.
Both Clinton and Obama have declined to endorse Rangel, along with the Mayor Michael Bloomberg. And Rangel has struggled with health problems that have caused the 81-year-old to use a walker and miss time on the campaign trail and in Washington D.C.
Political consultant Basil Smikle said he's not shocked to see Powell endorse Rangel despite their past entanglements.
"Personal feelings in politics don't exist," said Smikle.
"Political alliances change rapidly and frequently. They are moments in time and only as strong as the time it takes to break apart."
Powell could feel a stronger connection to East and Central Harlem, or Rangel could have courted his endorsement in a way that Espaillat didn't, said Smikle.
But Powell, who has run twice for the Congressional seat held by Rangel, could also be thinking about his own political future.
"In endorsing Charlie, maybe that helps Charlie win and maybe that helps Charlie realize his time is limited. If Adriano wins, he's going to be there for a while."
Vince Morgan, who ran for the seat in 2010 and recently dropped out of this year's race to support Espaillat, agreed.
"People are jockeying for position and I'll leave it at that," he said.
There was so much widespread speculation that Rangel would win the seat and try to hand it off to his ally, Assemblymen Keith Wright, that Rangel issued a statement saying that he intended to serve the full two-year terms if re-elected.
Rangel and Espaillat have been playing the endorsement game vigourosly in the last few weeks.
On Saturday, Rangel received the endorsement of a slew of elected officials, including Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, Assemblymen Robert Rodriguez and State Sens. Bill Perkins and Jose Serrano. Rangel previously racked up the endorsements of many local Latino leaders.
Espaillat has obtained endorsements from former Bronx Borough Presidents Adolfo Carrion Jr. and Fernando Ferrer, who was also the Democratic mayoral nominee in 2005.
Espaillat could not be immediately reached for comment.
Williams said he's not concerned about the Powell endorsement.
"I am more interested in securing a place in the hearts and minds of the residents of the district," he said.
"They don't care about politics as usual. They care deeply about policies that impact their daily lives.