A Rangel challenger has a theory on why Columbia isn’t in the district anymore

Clyde Williams. (alan.com)
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Clyde Williams, a former aide to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, said there is a reason the district currently represented by 21-term incumbent Rep. Charles Rangel no longer includes Columbia University.

The "political leadership was afraid of the whites on the Upper West Side" not supporting them anymore, Williams told a group of small business owners he met with in Washington Heights this morning.

Those political leaders "are more interested in maintaining their political power than actually doing something that benefits the community," said Williams. "I think it's a travesty that they've given up the greatest economic engine in upper Manhattan. Now it's become part of the Upper West Side, Jerry Nadler's district."

Williams said Columbia University, and other colleges, could help drive economic development in the district. After the event, I asked Williams to elaborate on his complaint.

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"I believe this," he said. "There was a decision that was made that the Upper West Side, people didn't want it to be part of the district anymore because, I believe people who have been elected for the longest, that those individuals weren't going to vote for them anymore."

The redrawing of the congressional lines, it should be noted, was overseen by the courts.

The event this morning was Williams' first since formally entering the race. The business owners he met with all said they'd like government to be more supportive, but not necessarily in terms of just handing out money. Technical assistance and advice about using new technologies were among the issues they raised.