Clyde Williams makes it semi-official, files exploratory paperwork to challenge Rangel

Clyde Williams. (alan.com)
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Last month, the New York Times reported that Clyde Williams, a political operative with ties to President Barack Obama and former president Bill Clinton, is considering a challenge to 81-year-old congressman Charlie Rangel, and that Williams had raised $50,000 so far.

At the time, there was no campaign or exploratory committee on file with the Federal Election Commission. But yesterday the Clyde Williams for Congress Exploratory Committee was officially filed with the F.E.C., allowing Williams to raise and spend money for a prospective race. (The paperwork is dated Nov. 1, or a day after the Times story appeared.)

When I called the committee's treasurer, Sam Ginsberg, this morning for comment, he asked me to put my questions in writing and said he would pass it to the appropriate spokesman. So far, I have not heard back.

Rangel was censured after an ethics investigation found he violated House rules for fund-raising and use of congressional resources. But he beat a crowded field of primary opponents with 51 percent of the vote last year, and has said he'll seek a 22nd term in office next year. He currently has just over $338,000 in cash on hand for his re-election.

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In becoming a candidate next year, Williams joins Vince Morgan, a former Rangel staffer making his second run at the seat. Also considering the race is Joyce Johnson, a business executive whom the New York Times endorsed when she ran against Rangel last year, and Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV. Longtime assemblyman and chairman of the Manhattan Democrats, Keith Wright, and State Senator Adriano Espaillat are also considered possible candidates.

Back in 2006, New York magazine's Chris Smith took Rangel's public feuds with Dick Cheney and Eliot Spitzer as an occasion to look at the evolving demographics of the congressional district. He wrote: "The larger threat to Rangel & Co. comes from people like Clyde Williams - the New Guard."