Adam Clayton Powell IV is 53 years-old—which, in his estimation at least, puts him in the flower of his youth for a congressional race.
“The issue of age at some point needs to be looked at,” Mr. Powell, a former assemblyman and city councilman, said on NY1 last night. “The voters will be the last voice on that but I’m like 10 years younger than most of the candidates running for office.”
Mr. Powell, running for Congressman Charles Rangel’s upper Manhattan and Bronx-based seat, argued that his age would allow him to remain in Congress long enough to gain seniority like Mr. Rangel, 85, and Mr. Powell’s own father, Adam Clayton Powell. Mr. Rangel was 40 when he dethroned Powell in 1970 and has held the seat since, forcing generations of Harlem politicians to wait for him to finally retire, as he has said he will do at the end of 2016.
Over the decades, and with the benefit of a Democrat majority that only collapsed in 2010, Mr. Rangel rose to be chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, showering federal funds on Harlem. Republicans now control the House and may have a stranglehold on the majority for years to come, putting any freshman Democrat at a severe disadvantage.
“Seniority plays a key role in Congress. My dad was there for 26 years, that’s how he became powerful, that’s how he became the chairman of education and labor,” Mr. Powell said.
Mr. Powell boasted that he is the youngest candidate in the crowded Democratic field, though he is the same age as Clyde Williams, a former Democratic National Committee official running once more for the seat. (Mr. Powell is several months younger than Mr. Williams) The other leading candidates in the race are older.
Assemblyman Keith Wright, thought by some to be Mr. Rangel’s preferred candidate, is 60. State Senator Bill Perkins is 65. State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who Mr. Powell chided already for being too old to run for Congress again, is 61.
“I’m still the youngest in the field. Amazing,” Mr. Powell said. “They’re all like in their 60s and wonderful people, you know, young people but I’d rather be 53 then 63.”
The Democratic primary will be held next June.