Skip to main content

Political rematch for embattled congressman

By Debra Goldschmidt, CNN
Rep. Charles Rangel is serving his 20th term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Rep. Charles Rangel is serving his 20th term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Adam Clayton Powell IV challenging Charles Rangel in Democratic primary
  • Powell ran unsuccessfully against Rangel in 1994
  • Rangel defeated Powell's father in 1970 election
  • Rangel, a 20-term congressman, has been plagued by ethics investigations

New York (CNN) -- New York state legislator Adam Clayton Powell IV on Monday announced his candidacy in this year's Democratic primary against 20-term U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, who has spent the past year battling an ethics investigation.

Powell acknowledged Rangel's 40-year legacy, adding it's time for change.

"I believe I will be part of that new chapter that will be written about Northern Manhattan and the New York City political history," Powell told reporters.

Powell was referring to the alleged ethics violations that led Rangel to temporarily step down last month from his post as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

That happened on the heels of an ethics investigation for failure to pay taxes on a home in the Dominican Republic, and failure to report hundreds of thousands of dollars on federal disclosure forms. The committee found that the congressman was in violation of gift rules for accepting reimbursement payments for travel to the Caribbean for conferences in 2007 and 2008.

Rangel is also accused of misusing a rent-controlled apartment for political purposes and preserving tax benefits for an oil-drilling company in exchange for donations to a project he supported at City College of New York.

Video: Powell IV to challenge Rangel

On Monday, Powell charged that Rangel plans to run for re-election with the intention of stepping down early and having a say in who would succeed him -- an accusation Rangel's campaign spokesman, Kevin Wardally, said is "just not true."

"The congressman is running, he intends to serve out his full term," Wardally added.

Wardally said it's a "horrible atmosphere" for incumbents right now, so "we've got to make our case and run a real campaign and we intend to -- and I think when we do that, voters will reward him with re-election."

Powell insists he is not entering the race to get even for Rangel's victory over his late father, incumbent Adam Clayton Powell Jr., in 1970. He said he shed that anger during his previous run against Rangel in 1994.

The bid for office is a natural progression, Powell said, adding that he brings wisdom, experience and campaign funds to the race that he did not have back then. He also said the two are political friends, having served together in the same district for the last 20 years.

Powell has made his own headlines after being charged with drunk driving and then acquitted by a jury.

Vincent Morgan, a banker and former Rangel campaign manager, is also vying for the seat.

CNN's Mary Snow contributed to this report.