Something that looked impossible only a year ago now comes to pass: Kirsten Gillibrand, the Democratic appointee to the U.S. Senate once regarded as problematic, is about to go unchallenged for the Democratic nomination.
Jonathan Tasini, the activist who tried to launch an issues-based insurgency, is shifting gears and going for the Charles Rangel seat in the House of Representatives, the 15th district, in which he lives. Now the names Ford, McCarthy, Maloney, Israel, Cooper, Stringer, and Kennedy dropped off the Senate radar on the Democratic side, and King, Giuliani and Pataki have peeled off on the Republican side.
Her opposition this season will come from another Republican – Blakeman, Malpass, DioGuardi or Diana. Remember: Because this is a special election, Gillibrand’s seat opens up again in 2012, the next presidential year.
Tasini said a few minutes ago that in seeking the Senate nod he ran afoul of the dominance of money over ideas and while he stayed in against Hillary Clinton in 2006 the issues and the candidate then were different.
He called it “deeply saddening” that the Democratic Party “does not want an open primary debate” and will choose Gillibrand who “does not deserve to be a US Senator” and who lacks “guiding principles.”
Tasini said that running for the House seat – against Democratic primary candidates that include Rangel, Adam Powell IV, and Vince Morgan – offers him more of a face-to-face campaign opportunity in a district he’s lived in for 23 years.
Rangel, he warned, could cost Democrats seats nationwide. “He will be the face of the Republican attack ads about corruption,” Tasini said. “It’s ironic that the Democrats took power in the House making the argument about Republican corruption. Now it’s going to be turned on us. That’s just the reality. Look at the ethics charges, corporate trips, his non-payment of taxes, the rent-controlled apartments…”
On issues, Tasini criticizes Rangel for supporting the real estate expansion of Columbia University and for voting for trade-agreements in recent years that cost American jobs.
UPDATE: Rangel spokesman Bob Liff responds:
"Everybody has a right to run and the congressman has faith in the wisdom
of the voters of the 15th district."