Rep. Charles Rangel announced today his plan to run for a 23rd term, ending months of speculation that the veteran Harlem congressman would seek retirement at the end of next year.
“There’s a lot of work that the president has started that we haven’t had the opportunity to complete,” he said at a press conference Thursday.
“It’s not going to be a difficult election,” Rangel said, even as signs are pointing to a crowded and challenging race next year.
Uptown political sources told Spectator earlier this month that State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who ran against Rangel in 2012, is planning on running again next year.
In a statement released this afternoon, Espaillat said that "Washington has failed to take action on one critical issue for our district after another," and that "today, as it was two years ago, we need new energy, new leadership and a renewed sense of urgency.”
But Rangel was unfazed Thursday afternoon.
“The last time he challenged me, he said he wasn’t running for the Senate,” Rangel said about Espaillat. It depends on “whether he wants to run for the Congress and give up his seat or not.”
The Rev. Michael Walrond of the First Corinthian Baptist Church on 116th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard also announced his candidacy for Congress earlier this month.
New York Daily News reported in November that the Rev. Calvin O. Butts of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem is also preparing a campaign.
Rangel will also face continued scrutiny after House Democrats censured him for “ethics violations” in 2010. A lawsuit he subsequently filed against other House members was dropped by the district court last week.
In 2012, Rangel narrowly defeated Espaillat by 2 percentage points and 1,000 votes. If Espaillat—who is Latino—joins the race, analysts said they see him as a strong contender.
“The district is predominantly Latino, and I certainly think a lot of these voters … want someone from that community,” Basil Smikle, a Harlem-based analyst, said earlier this month.
After congressional district lines were redrawn in 2011, Rangel’s district has since included parts of the Bronx and is 55 percent Latino, compared with 46 percent previously.
“You can never tell,” he said about the effect redistricting will have on the election. “I’ve spent a lot of time in the Bronx. It’s where I went to high school.”
At the announcement, Rangel said he’s seeking re-election to support President Barack Obama, CC ’83, and his policies against the Republican opposition.
“If the president started walking on water, the Tea Party would say, I told you he couldn’t swim,” Rangel said. “I can be of help to him.”
Still, Rangel, who turned 83 this year, said he’s energetic and ready for the campaign—despite suffering a back injury during the 2012 campaign.
“I feel so good it scares the hell out of me,” he said. “Right now I find myself on the dance floor.”
Christian Zhang contributed reporting