Two freshmen Democrats said Wednesday they didn’t expect Rep. Charles Rangel’s (D-N.Y.) ethics problems to hurt the party in November.
“Are people concerned about ethics in Congress? Of course, they always are,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said at a breakfast hosted by the Third Way, a Democratic-leaning think tank. “Going back to the founding of the Republic, they think they’re all mostly scoundrels so it’s not entirely surprising that another one’s uncovered.”
Rangel has an organizational meeting with the House Ethics Committee scheduled for Thursday and could face a public ethics trial depending on whether a deal is reached.
“I think it’s a sad and isolated case that will have a limited impact,” Connolly said. “It adds to the narrative that they’re all corrupt, sadly, but I don’t think it’s going to be a dispositive issue in the election.”
He added, “My constituents don’t even know who [Charlie Rangel is].”
Asked if Rangel should resign, Connolly demurred. “I’m not going to pre-judge anybody,” he said. “He has his day in court.”
Voters in Rep. Tom Perriello’s (D) south-central Virginia district haven’t raised concerns about Rangel.
“I was at several festivals this weekend in conservative-leaning counties and I didn’t get asked a single time about it,” Perriello said. “I think Republicans, who would be most likely to gin this up, have so many of their own ethics problems going on that I don’t think they’re really that eager to have that [be a defining issue].”
Concerns about the economy will override any headlines Rangel’s potential ethics trial would generate, he said. “People want jobs, people want to be able to feed their families and pay their bills right now.”