Charles B. Rangel, the longtime Democratic congressman from Harlem, is seeking a 23rd term in Congress, saying he is “fired up” about continuing his role as a defender of President Obama’s agenda in the House of Representatives.
For months, there has been widespread speculation, in New York City and in Washington, as to what the 83-year-old congressman would do regarding the 2014 election. However, Rangel, who came to Congress in 1970 after defeating Adam Clayton Powell Jr., made his intentions clear in a press conference and in speaking with the media on Thursday.
“I’m full of fire and ready to go,” Rangel said, in an interview with BET.com. “I don’t know of any president who wanted to do more the country in terms of the things that are important to me than President Obama. I want to continue to play a role in this president’s agenda.”
He added: “The president is working to make sure kids have an education, that the nation has economic growth and that Americans have decent health care coverage." Speaking of the Repbublican leaderdship, Rangel said, "In terms of being concerned with the rights of minorities, women and gay Americans, they go out of their way to be harmful.”
“The president is working to make sure kids have an education, that the nation has economic growth and that Americans have decent health care coverage,” He said. “And in terms of being concerned with the rights of minorities, women and gay Americans, the Republicans go out of their way to be harmful.”
Rangel’s decision may well ignite a repeat of the race two years ago in which the congressman was challenged by State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who ran against Rangel in the Democratic primary in an unsuccessful attempt to be the first Dominican-American member of Congress.
After the 2010 census and redistricting, the congressional district represented by Rangel had been redrawn with a majority Latino population, causing many observers to suggest that the longtime congressman would not prevail.
However, Rangel won that 2012 Democratic primary with 46 percent of the vote and Espaillat receiving 39 percent and other candidates splitting the remainder.
In the last two years, many African-American politicians in New York had held meetings to determine who might be a viable Black candidate for the congressional seat in the event Rangel decided to retire.
Rangel said he had met personally with a number of perspective candidates for the congressional seat.
“All of them have indicated to me that they would be in better shape if they had more time to prepare for the race,” Rangel said. “And they encouraged me to go forward and run.” The only potential candidate with whom the congressman did not confer, he said, was Senator Espaillat.
Two years ago, Rangel was forced to give up his chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee after being the subject of an ethics investigation. He was also censured by the House. The congressman maintained that the charges against him were politicaly motivated and that the allegations — including failure to pay taxes on rental income for a Caribbean vacation — resulted from bookkeeping lapses.
A few weeks ago, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by Rangel seeking to overturn the censure.
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(Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)