Longtime Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel tried to tamp down rumors that he is close to retirement and to fend off any would-be challengers by sending out a long statement this evening in which he says he will seek a 22nd term in the House of Representatives.
“The Court has spoken,” Mr. Rangel said in the statement, referring to the Congressional map drawn by the special master and released last night. “I have full confidence that those who have made the decision did the best they could for my constituents and the people of New York to protect their voice and representation, as guaranteed by the Voting Rights Act. I am formally announcing, again, and after talking with my county leaders, political and community leaders, that I will seek reelection in the new 13th congressional district.”
The new district Mr. Rangel seeks to represents will stretch from his long-time base in Harlem and head into portions of the Bronx, and now has a majority of Latino voters and so it is a little hard to know what Mr. Rangel meant when he said he had been in consultation with his “county leaders. The Manhattan county leader, Keith Wright, is a close ally of Mr. Rangel’s. The Bronx county leader, Carl Heastie, has been sparring with Mr. Wright over the contours of the new district. Either way, in his statement, Mr. Rangel made an overture to those new constituents of his.
“Over the years I have been privileged to receive the broad-based support of so many friends and neighbors in our Manhattan congressional district,” he said. “I am proud of the resources that I have been able to bring to Harlem and our community. I hope to continue representing the people I have been honored to serve in Congress and earn the support of my new constituents in the newly drawn district.”
A host of pols in Upper Manhattan have their knives out for Mr. Rangel, including Adriano Espaillat, a Washington Heights State Senator, Vince Morgan, a community banker in Harlem, and Clyde Williams, a former head of the Democratic National Committee.
Mr. Rangel appeared to want to remind his constituents of his work over the years and what his long service in the House can bring to the district:
A little over forty years ago, I ran for Congress, because I believed I could make a difference in our community and country. Since then, much has changed — technology is making the world smaller, we are competing in a global economy, and America is still in recovery, which is more the reason why I have decided to continue using my experience and influence to help improve the lives of people in our District and America. Whether it was securing hundreds of million dollars for the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ) or expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for millions of American families across the country I have always been committed to fighting for the little guy.
As third most senior Member in the House and Chairman Emeritus of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, I will be able to maintain my strong track record of passing significant pieces of legislation: For our community, I have been able to secure millions of dollars from the Recovery Act fund, and millions more in grants to revive the Taino Towers, 125th Street Corridor, Harlem Pier, La Marqueta, El Museo del Barrio, Borinquen Health Care Center, Renaissance Ballroom and Small’s Paradise, Frederick Douglass Memorial Circle, East River Plaza Mall, New York Presbyterian Hospital, The Harlem Hospital Center Modernization Project and the Apollo Theater — just to name a few. In addition, I spearheaded the Low Income Housing Tax Credit that generates investments in low- and moderate-income housing construction and rehabilitation. This permanent program is responsible for most affordable housing construction nationwide in the last decade, including more than 5,000 apartment units in Upper Manhattan.
The rest of the statement can be found below:
I have never lost my conviction to leaving this world a better place than when I entered it, both in life and in Congress. One of my most recent accomplishments was as a prime contributor to the new healthcare law, in which as Chairman I was able to push the bill out of the Ways & Means Committee. Also under my chairmanship I oversaw the increase of the federal minimum wage as well as small business tax cuts, and authored the Haiti Economic Lift Program Act and the Haiti Relief bill. I have always been the leading supporter of improving U.S. trade preference programs, including the General System of Preferences (GSP), the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) programs, Andean trade preference programs and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
While I am very proud of the many positive contributions I have made, there remains much work left for me to do. In addition to helping President Obama pass his jobs bill, improve our healthcare system, and provide affordable housing for working families, quality education for our students, there are numerous services I would like to keep providing my constituents, such as the Rangel Career Fair and the Social Security Fair that I recently hosted in our district. I will stand up with President Obama to push against Republican threats to cut valuable programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, not to mention unemployment insurance. I will keep working hard to make my new constituents proud. Just as President Obama needs more time to get our country back on track, my job in Congress is not done. I will continue to fight hard for what’s at stake — the very fabric of our community and the future of our country.