The Politicker is live on the scene at the opulent ballroom of the Plaza Hotel for Charlie Rangel’s annual birthday fundraiser. According to Team Rangel, there are about 800 people here, including several bright political lights–Andrew Cuomo, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tom DiNapoli, Mayor Bloomberg, Joe Crowley, Ed Towns, Jose Serrano, Anthony Weiner, Nydia Velazquez, Jerry Nadler, Yvette Clark, John Liu, Bill De Blasio, ad man Jimmy Siegel, Democratic donor Victor Kovner, among many many others.
None of the attorney general candidates are here, (I’m told Eric Schneiderman is here) and nor are some members of Congress like Mike McMahon, Yvette Clark, or Carolyn Maloney, although Gov. David Paterson, who is serving as emcee, announced that Maloney is sending a check for $2500 and Clark for $1000.
The Rangel campaign clearly chose this spot for the optics–hundreds of people packed into a fancy ballroom chanting the name “Charlie! Charlie!”–but I have heard some wonder if it works against them as well. This place may not be the best setting for someone who has been accused of having too many rent-controlled apartments and failing to pay income taxes on a Dominican villa.
All of the bold-faced political names have gone on stage to speak kind words about Charlie Rangel, although some seemed more aware of the bank of television cameras in the back of the room than others.
The biggest barnburner so far belonged to Rev. Al Sharpton, who told the crowd, “The reason we are standing up for Charlie Rangel is because for so long he stood up for us,” and proceeded to list a series of struggles, from Selma and Korea to health care, in which Rangel has led the charge. Sharpton then turned his attention to the media who were at the last minute invited to attend.
“You have started a political crucifixion,” he said. “But stick around for a political resurrection.”