Clyde Williams, the former political director of the Democratic National Committee and adviser to two Democratic presidents, has been publicly coy about his intent to challenge Charlie Rangel, the old lion of Harlem, for his seat in New York’s 15th Congressional District.
Behind closed doors, though, he has been tapping his high-profile friends for support and funds. He launched an exploratory committee, a website, and he has been informally meeting with locals in the district. Meanwhile, others such as Craig Schley and Joyce Johnson have already announced that they’ll also be throwing their hat in the ring to challenge the 81-year-old Rangel for his seat in November. Williams has served as an adviser to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
But this week Williams made his most public overture to the voters in the 15th District and to prospective donors: a biographical video, whose tone suggests nothing short of a man with a plan.
Married to Mona Sutphen, who served as President Barack Obama’s deputy chief of staff, Williams is shown in the video interacting with his children and chatting with small business owners in Harlem. Sprinkled throughout the shots of street scenes of the neighborhood are still photos from Williams’s childhood in Washington, D.C., where his mother raised him and his siblings after their father died.
“We didn’t have much. At one point my mother worked two jobs to make ends meet, but she also made sure we had big dreams,” Williams is heard saying in the video, as a still black-and-white photo of the young Clyde in his mother’s arms appears. “When she took me to see the White House as a baby, she couldn’t have imagined I’d work for two presidents.”
Williams, who has two children, has spent much of his professional life behind the scenes and is known mostly by those intimately involved in national politics. But if the launch of this video is any indication, it seems that could be changing.