Call it Rangel’s revenge.
Congressman Charles Rangel, a veteran Harlem lawmaker, took a dig at Mayor Bill de Blasio today, implying that his reported problems with the African-American community are just the tip of the iceberg.
“It seems like Bill de Blasio is having so many problems I would hate to single out the African-American community,” Mr. Rangel told the Observer at City Hall.
Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, remains overwhelmingly popular among black voters in polls, despite his declining approval ratings. Still, some African-American leaders have expressed frustration with Mr. de Blasio for not bringing about criminal justice reform quickly enough while endorsing the “broken windows” style of policing that critics say singles out low-income minorities.
The New York Post reported today that some black church leaders want Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, an African-American Democrat from Brooklyn, to challenge Mr. de Blasio in 2017. Mr. Jeffries denied he had any interest in running against Mr. de Blasio and few political observers believe the congressman, only in his second term, would undertake a bruising primary against an incumbent mayor.
Still, some African-American political leaders, particularly those who backed Bill Thompson, the only black candidate in the 2013 mayoral race, are less enthusiastic about Mr. de Blasio. Leading that pack may be Mr. Rangel, who was first elected to Congress in 1970.
Mr. de Blasio refused to endorse Mr. Rangel during his tough re-election fight last year. The Harlem political establishment rallied around Mr. Rangel and resented the mayor, who once managed a Rangel campaign two decades earlier, for not doing the same.
Mr. Rangel declined to elaborate on his comment about Mr. de Blasio, maintaining that he wanted to focus on the affordable housing press conference he was set to attend.
“It meant I didn’t want to discuss this any further at this time,” he said.
A de Blasio spokesman did not return a request for comment.