Will Harlem Legend Rangel Take One for the Team? Not Likely

Dem leaders want him to cut a deal before things get really ugly, but some say it's time to exit stage left.

By Jamilah King Jul 26, 2010

It appears that House Democratic leaders are urging New York Rep. Charlie Rangel to strike a fairly painless deal with the Ethics Committee before potentially damaging charges are unveiled against him on Thursday, [reports Politico](http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0710/40218.html). Rangel, who’s been serving his Harlem congressional district for the past four decades, faces multiple ethics violations. So far he’s met the challenges with textbook political defiance. In a [press conference ](http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/video/rangel-my-lawyers-kill-11238255) last week, the stalwart politician practically thanked the committee for giving his campaign momentum headed into the general election in November. He’s got reason to be cocky, of course. Over the past four decades he’s become one of the most powerful black politicians in the state of New York, and is virtually assured to win his upcoming general election–even if he’s found guilty. But the charges, Rangel’s defiance, and a tough Democratic election season may be complicating matters for the party broadly. With unsteady [popular support](http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127845693) from voters and Obama’s [dwindling approval rating](http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20001629-503544.html), Democratic leaders already seem resigned to losing seats in November. Dem strategists have crafted some messaging that they are hopeful lesson the blow, [according to the Hill](http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/house-races/110789-rangel-may-hurt-fellow-dems-yet-keep-his-own-seat). But a high-profile corruption case like Rangel’s could well hurt the cause. Which is why some of Rangel’s fellow Democrats are asking him to step down. On Friday, Ohio Rep. Betty Sutton [called on](http://thehill.com/homenews/house/110691-exclusive-house-democrat-calls-on-rangel-to-resign) Rangel to resign in an effort to "preserve the public trust." Former aide Vincent Morgan took it a step farther. "He needs to put his ego aside and start investing in the future of the district," Morgan [told the Hill](http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/house-races/110789-rangel-may-hurt-fellow-dems-yet-keep-his-own-seat). "We have this tendency to wait for the retirement ceremony or the memorial service before we start planning for the future, and I fear that’s what will happen here, too." Ouch. Don’t expect the grandfather of Harlem’s political machine to take the advice. *Photo: Creative Commons/[azipaybarah ](http://www.flickr.com/photos/azipaybarah/)*