Clyde Williams, a longtime Democratic operative with ties to both the Clintons and the Obamas, is planning a challenge to longtime Harlem Rep. Charles Rangel that could be the incumbent’s most serious test since he entered Congress, in 1971.
Rangel, censured by the House because of ethics violations two years, defeated a primary opponent in 2010. But Williams may be a tougher challenge, having already raised $167,000, and bringing a resume that includes a tenure as a White House aide to President Clinton as well as serving as political director of the Democratic National Committee after Barack Obama’s election.
Williams’ donors include Pete Rouse, a top adviser to Obama in the White House, and Maggie Williams, a longtime aide to the Clintons. His wife is Mona Sutphen, who served as a deputy chief of staff in the Obama White House.
Williams appears to be a serious contender. Other challengers to Rangel include Joyce Johnson, who also challenged Rangel in 2010.
In his first web video# released last week, Williams introduces himself to potential voters with biographical information and personal accomplishments. While the web video is the most public showing that Williams is going to make a serious run for Rangel’s seat, there is no mention of Rangel in the video.
Changing demographics in Harlem and a level of dissatisfaction with Congressman Rangel (who is still feeling the effects of his congressional censure for violating House ethics rules) could create the conditions for an upset.
“There is nothing more important in the overall district than figuring out how we get more opportunities for people. For decades, black and brown unemployment has been extremely high and low performing schools have been here for decades,” Williams said in an interview with theGrio.
Williams says the issues that he is most concerned about in the 15th district are “economic development issues across the board, [increasing] job opportunities, and expanding opportunities for small businesses.”
His web video highlights his work for the Clinton Foundation, leading the Harlem Small Business Initiative.
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