I am dreaming of a day when online editors will refrain from headlines like “Democrats wrangle over Rangel.” Hopefully, I’m not the only one.
One senior Democratic aide laid out the problem for Democrats: They clearly want Rangel to reach some kind of accommodation with the ethics committee but worry he will dig in if they push him too hard. The broader fear is that white, moderate Democrats in swing districts will start demanding he resign, prompting a racially tinged backlash from the Congressional Black Caucus.
“This potentially creates a civil war inside the party,” the aide said.
Any sense that Rangel, one of the most powerful black lawmakers in history, is being railroaded without a fair trial could hurt black turnout in the midterms, especially coming on the heels of the hasty firing last week of Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod, the aide added.
Republicans are employing a don’t-get-in-the-way-of-your-enemies-when-they-are-destroying-themselves strategy, the same game plan Democrats employed as Republicans grappled with ethics scandals in 2006. According to several leadership sources, top-ranking Republicans hope that the former Ways and Means Committee chairman fights charges of ethical wrongdoing.
“We want him fighting this tooth and nail. The more defiant he is, the better it is for us,” a GOP leadership aide told The Hill on Monday.
Rep. Walt Minnick (D-Idaho) is the second House Democrat to call for Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) to resign after the House Ethics Committee charged the 80-year-old congressman with multiple violations last week.
Minnick, who represents one of the country’s most conservative congressional districts and is seen as vulnerable in 2010, follows Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio), who was the first Democratic member to call on Rangel to step down on Friday.
Black lawmakers came to the defense of Rep. Charles Rangel (D., N.Y.) Monday, as he prepared for a face-to-face confrontation with the House ethics committee this week.