Clyde Williams, the former political director of the Democratic National Committee and one-time adviser to former President Bill Clinton has for months been considering challenging Rep. Charlie Rangel for his Harlem-based congressional seat.
Though Williams hasn't officially begun campaigning against the incumbent of more than 40 years, he has raised $165,000 in 10 weeks, according to Politico.The donors include some high-powered friends of both President Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton, including Peter Rouse, senior adviser to Obama. Also on the list are Maggie Williams and James Zogby.
Maggie Williams was Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff during Bill Clinton’s first term in the White House and the first African-American woman to hold that position. She also took over as campaign manager for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign as it began to flail against Barack Obama’s surge.
Zogby is a former adviser to the presidential campaigns of both Al Gore and Obama.
"I am humbled by the support that I’ve received up to this point," Williams told The Huffington Post. "This helps give me a good platform to build further."
Williams has formed an exploratory committee. Most of the committee's money was raised over the holidays, an impressive feat.
The high-profile donations could serve as a flare for other donors. According to Politico, several former Rangel donors wrote checks to Williams, including Clarence Avant, Sam Daniel, Glenn Davis and Ralph Dawson.
Rangel’s spokesman, Bob Liff, told Politico the 81-year-old congressman raised $60,000 during the last reporting period and has an additional $251,000 cash on hand.
Meanwhile, as the state wrestles over decennial congressional redistricting, and the new lines of the districts to be drawn, Williams is clearly getting closer to making his decision.
“I don't ever want to say that this congressional district has lacked any kind of leadership," Clyde Williams said in an interview late last year."I think that Congressman Rangel has been effective, but I do believe there comes a time when you do need new energy and new ideas to continue to build on some of the things that have taken place over the last few years."
Williams is married to Mona Sutphen, a former aide to BIll Clinton who later became Obama's deputy chief of staff, the first African-American to hold that position.