11:51 am Apr. 5, 2012
The Barack Obama Democratic Club of Upper Manhattan voted overwhelming last night to endorse Adriano Espaillat for the seat currently held by Rep. Charles Rangel.
But the real treat was seeing the candidates speak one after another.
The strongest remarks came from Clyde Williams, who has $125,000 on hand and boasts ties to Bill Clinton and President Obama. First, he insinuated the club's endorsement may have been a forgone conclusion, due to a political deal between Espaillat and the club's founder, Mark Levine, whose name was on Espaillat's petitions. (Both men strongly denied the allegation.)
Then Williams positioned himself as, basically, a Washington insider, recalling how he walked past the White House on his way to school as a kid, and is now "the only challenger to Congressman Rangel that has worked in Washington D.C."
"And the people who are talking about running, they haven't done their job in Albany," he said, referring, obviously, to Espaillat. "Some of them haven't even done what they need to do for the communities they represent today."
Williams was also the only speaker of the night to directly challenge the notion that Rangel accomplish anything legislatively if he's re-elected.
"Charlie Rangel is a person who has been there for 40 years, and he has lost his chairmanship," Williams said. "He doesn't even have the ability to vote on his own committee anymore. And so all the resources that he brought to the table were incredible at that time in order to get things done. He doesn't have that ability anymore."
Williams, by contrast, said being a freshman lawmaker won't prevent him from being effective.
"I understand how Washington D.C. works," he said. "I know the people who can get things done. I know most of the people who work in the White House."