In 2012, Charlie Rangel secured a plurality of the vote to return to congress for his 22nd term. For the 2014 election cycle, the Campaign for Primary Accountability already has placed Rangel, whose 44 year career has been capped in recent years with a series of allegations of ethical violations and failures to comply with tax codes, in the Hot Seat.
Defeating Rep. Rangel is unfinished business for CPA. Though CPA successfully targeted four incumbent Democrats for defeat in the '12 cycle, Rangel was the big fish that got away, barely.
In 2010, Charlie Rangel prevailed in the primary with a narrow 51 percent of the vote. In 2012, Rangel managed to win with a plurality, gaining just 44 percent of the vote, and winning by less than 1000 votes against State Senator Adriano Espaillat. Four candidates ran as the anti-Rangel candidate, splitting a majority of the vote.
Longtime advisor to Rep. Rangel, political consultant Bill Lynch, recently wrote a case study, "How Rangel Keeps on Winning," for Campaign & Elections magazine. Remarking on Rangel's brilliant campaign re-election strategy, Lynch wrote:
Other than voter files and a modest social media presence, the campaign was focused on face-to-face interactions. These were essential, given the sizeable bloc of technologically illiterate seniors in the district that includes the congressman himself. As a result, Rangel often made multiple appearances a day, yet only filmed one YouTube video over the course of the entire campaign.
It does seems to follow that an inept new media strategy might lead to an multi-decade incumbent securing just 44 percent of the vote.
Lynch shrugged off the allegations against Rangel as "trumped up scandal" which hardly seems accurate, given that the House Ethics Committee found Rep. Rangel guilty violating House ethics rules with 11 counts and the full House approved a sanction of censure against Rangel.
Lynch also dismisses the efforts of CPA as "in-effective" and claims the Super PAC "had little knowledge of the district." However, former Representatives, both Democratic and Republican, that CPA targeted and defeated in 2012, would beg to differ.