Over the weekend, Adam Clayton Powell IV spoke to the West Harlem Independent Democratic Club, complaining that his supporters are getting phone calls from aides to his opponent, Rep. Charlie Rangel.
One such person who got a phone call is J.R. Morales, the owner of a restaurant where Powell will hold a fund-raiser tomorrow. Morales told me the call came into the restaurant, Sofrito, and that the caller said they were from “Rangel’s office.”
Morales said he didn’t see the call as a form of intimidation, but that’s not how Powell is portraying the incident.
Here’s how Powell described the call: “The owner of Sofrito, who never even heard of Congressman Rangel, got a call. ‘The congressman would like to speak with you.’ Something, somewhere, somehow, that’s wrong.”
Powell added: “The call to Sofrito said, ‘The congressman would like to speak to you.’”
Morales, in an interview with me this morning, said, “They could have been calling for reservations for all I know.” He also said he’s not taking sides in the race, just providing the place for Powell’s event.
The phone call doesn’t seem like an egregious act, especially considering what’s happened in more contentious races in places like Jackson Heights. But getting a message from someone saying a congressman wants to talk to you–if that characterization is accurate–would demonstrate a surprising level of concern among Rangel’s camp.
Rangel’s campaign manager, Kevin Wardally, said the campaign isn’t reaching out to Powell supporters because their strategy is to focus on Rangel’s record.
“We’re not focused on Adam Clayton Powell. We’re focused on Charlie Rangel,” Wardally said.