By Gabriela Resto-Montero
EAST HARLEM — Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV announced Monday that he will challenge Rep. Charlie Rangel for Harlem’s congressional seat, accusing Rangel of running again just so that he could anoint his own successor.
“The word in political circles is that he doesn’t want to serve two years in Congress,” Powell said at the campaign announcement on the corner of East 116th Street and Lexington Avenue. “He just wants to be re-elected then resign and appoint his successor.”
Powell has spent the past several months critiquing Rangel’s leadership amid an ethics investigation — and defending his own political dust-ups.
Powell, 47, was recently convicted of driving while impaired. A police video of his sobriety test proves his innocence, Powell said.
“It’s not his word or my word, look at the video,” Powell said at his announcement. “Some policemen lie.”
Rangel, who has served in Harlem's congressional seat for nearly two decades, stepped down as chair of the powerful committee in March after being admonished by a House ethics committee, and remains under investigation for allegedly failing to pay taxes on a vacation home in the Dominican Republic, using rent-stabilized apartments in Manhattan and improper fundraising.
"Had he [Rangel] still been Chairman of House Ways and Means Committee, I might not be here," Powell said.
Powell is not the first to announce he is challenging the embattled Rangel — Vincent Morgan, a banker and former campaign manager for Rangel, is also running for the congressional seat, and other politicians are rumored to be considering a run against the once-unstoppable Rangel.
Rangel came to power in 1971 after successfully challenging Powell's father, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., a beloved civil rights figure in Harlem who served in Congress for a quarter of a century.
"This is just a natural progression of anyone in my situation," said Powell, who served on the City Council before becoming Assemblyman in 2000. "This is not about settling scores."
Powell said he wants to focus on helping small, minority-owned businesses and affordable housing during his campaign.
"I believe if the disenchantment with Rangel outweighs Mr. Powell's indiscretions, then they're going to vote him in," said Eddie Gibbs of East Harlem, who said he plans to keep a close eye on the election.