The Politicker ran into Vince Morgan on the street outside The Observer Tower this afternoon and he said that he was already running for Congress in 2012.
Morgan, a community banker and former aide to Charlie Rangel, announced that he would run against his old boss nearly a year before September’s primary. He came in last place with just over 1,100 votes, or 3 percent of the total.
But Morgan said that running last year, when Rangel was in the race, gave him a jump on the next election, when there could be a political free-for-all if Rangel retires.
“Anybody who wants to break into the political machine needs to make their case when Charlie was actually in it, before it degenerates into this whole conversation after Charlie is gone,” he said. “Actually running at that time was a smart thing to because it allows you to direct the attention away from the political establishment, which obviously wants to keep a stranglehold on the perception that Charlie is going to pass it on in their circle. If I hadn’t run in ’10 I would be lost in the whole conversation. It would be like ‘Oh yeah, Vince Morgan is in the race too.'”
Morgan received a lot more attention than anybody in the race, except perhaps for Adam Clayton Powell IV, on account of his family–he is a cousin to former Tennessee congressman Harold Ford, Jr.–and on account of his ties to Rangel. Morgan argued that his candidacy was not so much about the embattled congressman but about Harlem preparing for the next generation of leadership. During one debate, Morgan went so far praising Rangel that the congressman said to him, “You sound like my designee.”
He now sounds like someone ready to capitalize on the changing face of Harlem.
“I came in dead last, but look where my votes came from. I represent the new Harlem, and my votes were concentrated in the areas that were perceived to be where most of the new development is happening. And I say this to people all the time. I was friendly with Charlie. I was somebody talking about issues consistently. I wasn’t somebody trying to tear him down or do whatever. So if Charlie wasn’t in the race you could actually slice off a big chunk of his numbers and give them to a candidate like me. Because I do think people perceive me as being a little bit more aligned with him than the reality.”
If Rangel does not run in 2012, there are a number of people with a more obvious base of support in the district than Morgan, including state Senators Bill Perkins and Adriano Espaillat, Assemblyman (and Manhattan Democratic leader) Keith Wright and Council woman Inez Dickens. Dickens and Wright are thought to be the favored candidates of Rangel, but Morgan did not think either of them could win district-wide.
“When Charlie is gone, there is not 40 years of this reservoir of support for Keith or Inez,” he said. “And there is a record that I think they have, and the physical embodiment of what the district is going through now isn’t really represented by the next two people in the pecking order.”