Experts Say Powell Endorsement Won't Help Rangel Much

by Jake Neher
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Congressman Rangel
Jens Schott Knudsen, flickr.

Rangel faces toughest reelection bid yet.

New York City politician Adam Clayton Powell IV is endorsing Congressman Charlie Rangel in his bid for reelection. The former rivals appeared together Wednesday in Harlem to make the announcement. But some political experts say the endorsement is largely symbolic.

Endorsements typically help candidates in a couple of ways. First, they can boost name recognition. Rangel - a 21-term Congressmen - isn't lacking in that department. Second, they can help with fundraising. But some experts say Powell's support likely won't help there.

Fordham University political science professor Bruce Berg says many in Rangel's district might be afraid of what could happen if they don’t support him and he still wins.

"You're going to be closed out of any benefits that Congressman Rangel controls, be they material or symbolic, in the future," Berg said.

Although Berg says this endorsement won't be much of a boost for Rangel, he says if a large number of local politicians follow suit, it could make a difference.

"So to the extent that Congressman Rangel can get more endorsements, I suspect that at some point the number of endorsemenets of visible politicians will have an impact," Berg said. "One endorsemenet, probably very little."

Berg and other experts say this could be Rangel's toughest reelection bid yet. Past corruption charges and a larger Hispanic population in his redrawn district could attract more support for his democratic challenger New York State Senator Adriano Espaillat.

Rangel has won reelection by huge margins in the past.

Adam Clayton Powell IV attempted to unseat Rangel in 2010. That campaign often became heated, with Powell calling Rangel "corrupt".  Rangel also successfully ran against Powell's father in 1970 for his seat in Congress. Political onlookers say just two years can be an eternity when it comes to bad blood in New York City politics.
 

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