Mayor Mike Bloomberg today declined to give an endorsement to Charlie Rangel, a longtime incumbent fighting to keep his Harlem seat in one of the more heated congressional races in New York City this election season.
But the mayor still had (somewhat) nice things to say, and left the door open for a possible endorsement closer to voting day.
Rangel, 81, is facing what is shaping up to be the toughest opposition he has encountered since the 1970s, including campaigns from State Senator Adriano Espaillat and Clyde Williams, who is a former political director of the Democratic National Committee.
Today, a reporter asked Bloomberg — who was at City Hall to discuss the new bike share program — for his thoughts on Rangel’s candidacy, noting that Espaillat has nabbed the endorsement of former Bronx borough president Fernando Ferrer, who was also a Democratic mayoral nominee in 2005.
“Way to go,” Bloomberg said in the middle of the reporter’s question (referring to Ferrer’s endorsement) before continuing with a lukewarm answer: “I’ve not decided whether I’m going to enter that race or not…If you remember in the past, I have endorsed Charlie Rangel. He has brought home the bacon.”
Referring to Rangel’s high-profile ethics investigation in 2010 that cost him his influential position as the head of the House Ways and Means Committee, Bloomberg continued, saying, “It’s sad that he lost his chairmanship…at a point where he really could’ve done more for New York City, but he worked very hard for the city, and in the past I’ve endorsed him. Whether or not I’m going to enter this race, I don’t know.”
Rangel has served 21 terms in Harlem, but faces a new obstacle this year after the redistricting process led to the creation of a district that includes parts of the Bronx and for the first time has a Latino majority. The Ferrer endorsement today is further evidence of how this demographic shift could hurt Rangel in the race.
The reporter followed up, asking the mayor why he might not endorse the incumbent this time around if he’s endorsed him in the past.
“I haven’t really thought about it yet,” Bloomberg said, noting that he’s going to let things play out. “It’s just too early.”