Charles Rangel, the dean of the New York Congressional delegation and patriarch of the storied Harlem political machine will be challenged in 2016 for the coveted Harlem seat by Keith Wright, a longtime elected political official. Congressman Rangel has represented his congressional district since 1970, when he defeated the flamboyant and charismatic, Congressman Rev. Dr. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. From 1970 until 2002 Rangel enjoyed the political advantage of running for re-election on both the Democratic Party as well as the Republican Party general election ballots. Therefore, the Congressman has only recently had political competition.
Rangel has not had political competition from within the Democratic Party, and the Republican Party never mounted a serious political opposition to him, because of the decades old strange political bedfellow relationship he enjoyed with the GOP county chairman and former NY State Senator Roy Goodman. Recently, nationals from the Dominican Republic made significant inroads as members of the Republican Party, and the Hispanic community almost put their candidate over the top in the 2014 election. Consequently, it seems that it is just a matter of a short time before there is no longer a black congressperson, representing Harlem.
It remains to be seen whether Keith Wright can improve the
future political prospects for a black congressional representative in Harlem beyond 2016. Interestingly enough, Congressman Rangel may seek another term despite being 85 years old. On the other hand it is a foregone conclusion that there will be a formidable Hispanic candidate in the race. But, wait a minute, according to informed sources other prominent community leaders are considering their political options.
Election 2016’s unfolding scenarios are presenting interesting and intriguing political developments for both political parties in the presidential race as well in Harlem’s local politics.