Embattled Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) will find out tonight who his real friends are with a fundraising gala celebrating his 80th birthday. Next month, however, he will really need them: Rangel has a fierce primary challenge ahead of him against the son of New York political legend Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.
Ironically, Adam Clayton Powell IV is challenging Rangel in the same fashion Rangel challenged his father some 40 years ago. In 1970, the elder Powell was facing an ethics scandal, as Rangel is now. He refused to step down, and a young, ambitious Rangel took on the incumbent and won his storied seat.
Could the tide turn again? On Wednesday's "Washington Unplugged," Powell IV spoke with CBS News' Sharyl Attkisson and let it be known that it's time for Rangel to do the right thing and step down.
"He's really seems to be in no-man's land," he said. "I've called upon him to resign with some level of dignity and spare his constituents in the Congressional district, as well as the entire nation, the agony of a trial that could very well end in his expulsion from Congress or possible Federal and criminal charges."
Rangel is expected to go before the House ethics committee this fall in a public trial over 13of ethical wrongdoing against him.
Powell said, "We need to turn the page. He is 80 years old. The fact is none of these accusations are helping him or anyone else for that matter."
But Powell is himself no stranger to controversy. In 2008, Powell faced a DUI charge that was later reduced. Two allegations of sexual assault were leveled against him; Powell emphatically denied the allegations and was never charged. Attkisson also mentioned the ethics problems his father faced before losing his seat to Rangel 40 years ago.
Powell responded, "Every situation is different. When my father ran for reelection in 1970 all of those ethics accusations were behind him. The fact is he was in his late-50's. Now, we have a different situation. The Congressman is 80 years-old and these violations are current. He should retire with some dignity and some level of honor."
Powell also quipped, "He has four rent-controlled apartments in Harlem; plenty of space for him to live out his retirement years."
Powell still has an uphill climb against the political main-stay. Most residents respect and admire Rangel, who for so many decades brought perks and money to Harlem, an area that has seen a revitalization over the past decade.
How would Powell, as a junior, first-term congressman be able to match that? Powell responded, "You can't compare me or anyone else coming in to 40 years in Congress. The fact is we must turn the page. Everyone knows that change is coming and Congressman Rangel will not be around much longer. The question is when will that change happen and who will replace him? I've prepared myself over the last 20 years, and I will be able to deliver."
Watch Wednesday's Washington Unplugged above also featuring CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer and CBS News Chief Political Consultant Marc Ambinder on Tuesday's Primaries in Colorado and Connecticut and the passing of former Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.). Plus; KTVA's Matt Felling on the legacy of controversial former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska.)
"Washington Unplugged," CBSNews.com's exclusive daily politics Webshow, appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 2:00 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.