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Former Clinton aide Clyde Williams eyes Charlie Rangel’s seat

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Rangel (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Charlie Rangel survived censure by the House of Representatives last year, but the Democratic representative from New York may face the test of his political career if a former Bill Clinton adviser decides to take him on in 2012.

Clyde Williams, a former Clinton adviser with ties to Barack Obama, has "commissioned a poll, met with major Democratic donors around the country and raised about $50,000 in preparation for a race" in Rangel's district next year, the New York Times reports. Williams is expected to announce his candidacy within weeks.

Rangel is 81, and his staff said in February that he planned to seek a 22nd term, but his age-- something Rangel has alluded to lately when publicly discussing his future--ethics woes and a slow fundraising start compared to his past campaigns have contributed to rumors of his retirement.

If Rangel does retire, many expect the congressman to support state Assemblyman Keith Wright as his successor.

The 2012 election will be Rangel's first electoral test since being censured by the House for multiple ethics violations including failing to report and pay taxes on rental income, improperly soliciting donations, and improperly running a campaign office. The formal censure didn't occur until December, nearly a month after Rangel won re-election.

Rangel has maintained his innocence and continued his service in the House. Just last month, the committee he formerly chaired unveiled his official portrait during a ceremony attended by leaders of both parties.

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