Rangel ridicules proposals to shift his district out of Manhattan

Rep. Charles Rangel mocked proposed new lines for his congressional district: "The head of the dragon would be in Mount Vernon." Image: Wikimedia Commons

This morning, Rep. Charles Rangel sounded off on proposals to shift his Congressional district into the Bronx and as far north as Mt. Vernon in Westchester – and made no secret of his displeasure.

“I’ll be damned if I want the district to go to Mt. Vernon,” Rangel said at a newspaper roundtable today. “Hell, Canada sounds just as likely.”

As we reported in December, influential civic groups have proposed redrawing Rangel’s 15th Congressional district to lose Washington Heights and stretch north into the Bronx and Westchester. (You can see the proposed maps here.) These proposals would retain an African-American plurality in a district whose population has become increasingly Latino, but potentially shift the base of the district out of Manhattan.

The actual lines for congressional districts will be drawn by the state Legislative Task Force on Redistricting.

Rangel mocked the monster-like shape of the district that would be produced by shifting his turf north into Westchester. “The head of the dragon would be in Mount Vernon, the belly would swell up in the South Bronx, the neck would get from the belly to the head, and the tail would be Harlem,” Rangel said.

He said such lines would be unlikely to stand up to legal scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Justice, and that his top priority was ensuring that the district remain based in Manhattan. Retaining a majority of his district’s Democratic county committee seats – the most local level of party leadership – within New York County would ensure that the Manhattan Democratic party, rather than the party apparatus of another borough, would hold powers that include selecting a candidate in the event of a special election.

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