Rangel: Senate Flip Is a ‘Real Embarrassment’ to New York

The Republican takeover of the State Senate does not make Charlie Rangel feel good about himself, his fellow New York congressmembers, or his state.

"It's been a real embarrassment to the New York delegation—both Republican and Democrat—to believe that people who have been indicted can be welcomed into the Republican Party," said Rangel, referring to Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada Jr. "This is a coup that is not based on principles of politics but merely the self-aggrandizement of individuals that have not made contributions to either one of the parties. It is a total embarrassment to the state."

(Monserrate was indicted on charges of stabbing his girlfriend in the face with a drinking glass.  Espada has been fined thousands of dollars for failing to comply with campaign-finance laws.)

"We have our own budget problems and our own political problems, but to think that this could happen in the Empire State is totally unbelievable and something we can't explain to our colleagues," said Rangel.

Asked if he was worried about the effects of the takeover on congressional redistricting, Rangel said, "They [Espada and Monserrate] have to run for re-election. Redistricting is always an issue, but this is more important than redistricting."

"If it weren't a question of losing the majority, I think we'd welcome them going over to the other side," he said.  

Asked if the defection could hurt the Democrats in upcoming elections, Rangel said,  "We don't know how long these guys are going to stay where they are. We've got to wait a day or two. They might not even know where the hell they are. It happened so fast."

Malcolm Smith, the apparently former majority leader, is threatening legal action to regain control of the Senate, which fell to Democrats for the first time in 40 years just five months ago.

Asked if he thought Smith could succeed, Rangel said, "It depends on what reasons they stated when they left. If it was principled reasons and our party didn't meet those standards, it wouldn't make a damn bit of difference who the majority leader was—they would leave out of principle.

"But judging from their conduct, they would seem to me to have been trying to cut a deal for themselves long before Malcolm was selected. It could be that they were just waiting to cut a deal and maybe Malcolm would not give them what they wanted. It just looks bad for our state." Rangel: Senate Flip Is a ‘Real Embarrassment’ to New York