In Harlem, New Money and Old History

From the people bringing you the C. Virginia Fields Comeback Campaign for State Senate, the following:

She raised around $100,000 yesterday at an event at the Yale Club, a sum that her handlers say will make her the money leader in the race to replace David Paterson.

Bill Perkins, the former councilman who is also running for the seat, has some significant organizational support of his own, including backing from Local 1199 as well as three current council members who represent part of the senate district.

The outcome of the contest featuring two well-known Harlem officials — Fields, who left her borough presidency because of term limits, and Perkins, who left his council seat because of term limits — will hardly produce a tectonic shift in the balance of power in Albany.

But the race is worth watching as part of the larger narrative of Harlem politics, where a younger generation has fought with mixed success to win power and influence from the generation of political lions like Carl McCall and Basil Paterson, both of whom occupied the seat now being contested.

When David Paterson won election to his father’s old seat in 1985 at the age of 31, much was made of the notion that he was part of a new crop of emerging black leaders from a post-civil rights generation.

If history were linear, the seat he is abandoning to run for lieutenant governor might have fallen to Rodney Capel, the eminently likeable son of Charlie Rangel’s chief of staff.

Capel toyed with the idea of running for it before withdrawing his name in March, citing “the large influence of money and challenges that face new leadership.”

Sometimes, things just go in circles.