Potential Gillibrand challenger eyes Rangel instead

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A primary challenge to appointed U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) appears to have faded as Jonathan Tasini, a left-leaning Democrat, said Wednesday that he will skip the Senate run and instead pursue a Manhattan congressional seat.

Gov. David A. Paterson's selection last year of Gillibrand, previously an upstate congresswoman, to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton pending this year's special election launched explorations by several Democrats who saw her as vulnerable. All of them - including former Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford and Reps. Steve Israel and Carolyn McCarthy - chose to pass.

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Tasini, who lost a primary to Clinton in 2006, said he would seek the seat held by Rep. Charles Rangel, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Tasini said he's lived in the district for 23 years, and suggested that recent ethics questions could make Rangel vulnerable to attacks from the GOP.

Through a spokesman, Rangel said: "Everybody has a right to run and the congressman has faith in the wisdom of the voters of the 15th District." Others in that primary include Adam Clayton Powell IV.

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