Washington Report

Updates from Capitol Hill

Et Tu, Vince?


For the first time in many years, Rep. Charles Rangel will face a primary challenger during his 2010 bid for reelection. That was almost a given considering Rangel is under fire for an ethics committee investigation into his failure to pay or disclose certain taxes and assets.

But the first person to challenge the powerhouse Ways and Means committee chairman is his former aide Vincent Morgan, who in 2002 served as Rangel’s campaign director. That’s got to hurt.

Morgan, a vice president and banking officer for TD Bank, is a former high school drop out who went on to earn degrees from the University of Illinois and Columbia. He also chairs the 125th Street Business Improvement District.

When asked about Morgan’s bid, Rangel said, “I only know what I’ve read in the newspapers. I saw Vince a couple of weeks ago and he didn’t share this with me. He’s been very supportive in the past.”

But Morgan says, “It’s time for change. Our district needs new leadership that is in touch with the community and the issues that confront us today.”

Odds are Rangel was thinking along similar lines when in 1970 he challenged another black political icon—Adam Clayton Powell–and won.

If exonerated by the ethics committee, Rangel, who will be 80 next year, may decide to retire rather than run against a younger man who may be as scrappy as he once was. He will, after all, have fulfilled his goal chair Congress’s most powerful committee and served under the nation’s first black president. If he’s really lucky, he’ll be written up in the history books as having played a pivotal role in the passage of historic healthcare reform legislation.

Rangel seems pretty confident he could beat Morgan, but, he says, “Every challenge is serious.”

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