HARLEM, N.Y. (WPIX)—Even though they're required to be impartial, poll workers cheered on scandal-plagued Congressman Charlie Rangel as he arrived to cast his vote.
"The law prohibits electioneering and other improper activity within the polling place," is a requirement of the New York City Board of Elections. However, the people working for the board at Rangel's local polling place, P.S. 175, an elementary school on 134th Street in Harlem, not only applauded and cheered when the congressman entered the polling place, some even shouted, "He's going to stay!" and "He's ours!"
Charles Rangel is a 20-term congressman who faces a trial this autumn by his congressional peers on thirteen ethics violation allegations.
Among the charges are that he had four rent stabilized residential apartments, one of which he used as a campaign office. Also, it's alleged that the congressman did not pay taxes on rental income from a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic, even though he chaired the House Ways and Means Committee, which has oversight of some federal tax policies. Rangel had to step down from that chairmanship in the wake of the allegations against him.
Despite Rangel's legal problems, Bill Clinton, Michael Bloomberg and a long list of distinguished local politicians are either campaigning for him or endorsing him in this year's primary. Also, most opinion polls show Rangel with at least a 2-to-1 lead against any opponent. The most high-profile of those opponents is Adam Clayton Powell IV, the son of legendary congressman Adam Clayton Powell, who Rangel defeated in 1970.
Even though election workers' shouts of victory may hold true for the man who represents the 5th Congressional District, many polls, particularly one conducted by the New York Times show that an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers -- not necessarily, though, from his district -- want Rangel to step down. Even President Barack Obama called for Rangel to leave "in dignity."
PIX 11 News asked Rangel what promise he can make to voters to win back their trust, to which he replied, "I promise them that I have never disappointed them legislatively, politically or morally."
Rangel also faces four more challengers in the Democratic primary: Joyce Johnson, a former business executive and educator who won the endorsement of the New York Times, Vince Morgan, a former Rangel staffer, and Jonathan Tasini and Ruben Vargas, two men who regularly campaign for office, with little success at the polls.
Rangel's congressional district is overwhelmingly Democratic. For most of the last century, the Democratic primary winner has gone on to represent the district.