Is Charlie Rangel (D., N.Y.) on his way out as Ways and Means chairman?
“The dam broke today,” said a senior Democratic aide.
Rangel suffered a significant blow Tuesday afternoon when Rep. Artur Davis – a member of both the Ways and Means Committee and the Congressional Black Caucus who’s running for governor back home in Alabama – issued a statement in which he said the chairman “should do the right thing and step aside.”
Another Democratic member told POLITICO Tuesday night: “I think Charlie should do the right thing and step down. We expected that out of Tom DeLay. He should do the honorable thing … There’s no double standard.
Republicans are planning on bringing a new resolution to the House floor calling for Rangel’s ouster, and many vulnerable Democratic incumbents are reportedly unwilling to risk publicly supporting him.
Rangel is reportedly undertaking an internal whip count to determine if his position is tenable.
Already, Democratic Reps. Paul Hodes (N.H.), Bobby Bright (Ala.), Gene Taylor (Miss.), Mike Quigley (Ill.), Betty Sutton (Ohio), Harry Mitchell (Ariz.) have said publicly that they plan to join Republicans in voting to remove Rangel.
And the perilous position Democrats face in November is hardly the only factor.
“The more glaring factor is that they found him guilty of an ethical violation,” the aide said, referring to last week’s ethics committee finding that Rangel violated House rules by taking corporate-funded trips to the Caribbean. “Frontline Democrats are vulnerable to the slightest things and being associated with someone accused of an ethical violation is not what we need.”