Despite strong fundraising numbers, a well-organized campaign and his experience working in national politics, former DNC political director Clyde Williams is generally seen by insiders as a likely third place finisher behind State Senator Adriano Espaillat and Rep. Charlie Rangel in the race for Upper Manhattan’s newly redrawn 13th congressional district. However, Mr. Williams told The Politicker he’s confident about his chances when we caught up with him last night as he met with voters in rapper Doug E. Fresh’s Harlem restaurant, Doug E.’s Chicken & Waffles.
“I feel very good,” Mr. Williams said. “I don’t particularly say I know exactly what the breakdown is going to be, but based on what we’ve done, our own analysis, we feel good about where we are. We know where our voters are, we plan on getting them to the polls.”
When we asked Mr. Williams whether he thought it was a mistake to count him out, he had a quick one word reply.
“Totally,” he said.
Mr. Williams cited his newspaper endorsements and his aggressive campaigning as evidence he could pull off an upset.
“Look, I’ve gotten the endorsement of the New York Times and the Daily News. We knocked on 38,000 doors, we got more than 6,000 signatures on our petitions,” said Mr. Williams. “We’re doing our due diligence. We’re not going to worry about what people say.”
Along with his ballot petitions and door-to-door stops, Mr. Williams said he’s sent “more than 188,000 mailings” and participated in “hundreds of events” in the district. Over the weekend, his supporters also plastered Mr. Espaillat’s base in Washington Heights with posters showing a photo of Mr. Williams during his days working in Bill Clinton’s Harlem office playfighting with Muhammad Ali. According to a spokesperson for Mr. Williams, they also took advantage of the recent heat wave by distributing “thousands” of “Vote Clyde Williams” branded water bottles throughout the district.
Though Mr. Williams thinks he has a good shot, Mr. Espaillat seemingly dismissed his opponent yesterday by telling us Mr. Williams might want to set his sights on the State Legislature in Albany rather than Washington.
“He’s got a promising future, maybe as an Assembly member,” Mr. Espaillat said of Mr. Williams.
We asked Mr. Williams about Mr. Espaillat’s suggestion. He thanked Mr. Espaillat for saying he would do well in Albany, but insited he’s not interested in a career as an assemblyman.
“I have no desire to do that,” Mr. Williams said. “I’d focus on today, but that’s nice of him. Next time you see him, you can tell him I said that.”