Michel Faulkner is a black Republican who seeks to beat long-time Democrat and scandal-plagued Rep. Charlie Rangel in New York.
He has a simple plan for the daunting task of knocking off the 40-year incumbent in one of the bluest congressional districts in the country. It’s all about the numbers. Faulkner says 70 percent of Rangel’s Harlem district thinks the congressman has been in office for too long, and most residents aren’t registered to vote.
“That’s where our winning margin is,” Faulkner, a pastor and former NFL player, said during an interview with The Daily Caller. “It’s in the unregistered, disenfranchised, disgruntled voters.”
Most observers would agree that Faulkner — or any other Republican — has the slimmest of chances of unseating Rangel. “There’s a better chance Charlie Rangel will win the tour de France,” said David Wasserman, House races editor for the Cook Political Report.
But Faulkner hopes to use New York state election law to his advantage. In addition to being on the Republican ticket if nominated, Faulkner plans to appear on the ballot as the Conservative Party and Jobs Now Party tickets, as allowed by state law. So voters turned off by Rangel — who can’t bring themselves to vote for a Republican — can still vote for Faulkner on another ticket.
He said “the real challenge is getting to those people to let them know that there is an option. To let them know who Michel Faulkner is.”
So who is Michel Faulkner? Not your typical Republican, that’s for sure.
He’s not a life-long Republican, but he’s been one for about the past 15 years or so, even though he voted for President Obama in 2008. But he won’t be voting to re-elect the president in 2012.
“I regret that decision and I will not be supporting Mr. Obama again,” he said. “I think that the direction that Mr. Obama is taking the nation in is a very dangerous one.”
Faulkner calls himself a “practical Republican” who agrees with bits and pieces of the different factions of the GOP.
“I see the zeal, and I admire the zeal and passion of the Tea Party movement and agree with them on most of the issues,” he said. “However, their message does not connect with the mainstream of America.”
Faulkner went on to say that it was the label Tea Party rather than the ideas the movement embodies that is toxic in the district he seeks to represent.
“I will say this; a Tea Party conservative doesn’t have an opportunity to be elected in my district,” he explained. “And let me say it this way, the reason is because the label itself is negative, not necessarily because of the ideas.”
When it comes to Rangel — who The Daily Caller could not reach for comment — Faulkner calls the congressman “a poster child for everything that’s wrong with Washington.”
“There’s a sense of entitlement, a sense of evasive maneuvering that [he] has blamed everyone else, his staff and his family or other people for his unethical decisions or problems,” he said.
“They’re ready for someone to bring some practical, common sense solutions to government and get out of this federal take over position,” Faulkner argued about the voters he is seeking to win over. “Because even the most liberal person is looking at this and thinking ‘can we support this?’”
New York’s primary is Sept. 14.
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