“I also want to publicly thank my wife,” Mr. Rangel said. “I forgot exactly what the contract was all about, it’s been so long ago, but I’m certain it didn’t include all of the bumps that she has gone through with me. Especially with the press that has been so hostile at times, of course, the health problems that I have had.”
Mr. Rangel suggested the candidates who ran against him underestimated him due to his medical difficulties. He made it clear this was a mistake.
“I hate to disappoint my opponents for misjudging the importance of medical science when it comes to being ill,” Mr. Rangel said.
His health was one of several factors that was seen as potentially weakening Mr. Rangel in this election. The redistricting process and years of demographic shifts saw Mr. Rangel’s district expand from his Harlem stronghold to include portions of the Bronx and a Latino majority that seemingly favored his opponent, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who would have become the first congressman of Latino descent if he managed to defeat Mr. Rangel.
Now, after winning this race, it is Mr. Rangel who is making history. His staff said his victory will make him the first African American congressman elected in the Bronx. In his election night speech, Mr. Rangel, who stood before a sign dubbing him “The Lion of Lenox Avenue” in Harlem, assured the audience he knows what needs to be done to serve his new constituents in the Bronx.
“Every hope and dream we’ve had on Lenox Avenue is the same thing they’ve had on Fordham Road,” Mr. Rangel said.
Mr. Rangel also addressed his doubters, specifically the newspaper editorial boards who endorsed one of his rivals, Clyde Williams. He called the boards “strange people” for failing to recognize he was the best candidate in the race.
“The surprising thing is, some of the editorial boards–and I recognize they’re special people–they thought otherwise even though they didn’t know who was running against me,” Mr. Rangel said. “When I asked them, ‘Who are these people and what have they done?’ They looked just mystified that you would challenge the editorial board.”
Mr. Rangel finished his speech by vowing to prove to these “strange people” that he deserved to be re-elected.
“If they didn’t think after 42 years that I was the best qualified, I promise them that, in the next two years, they’ll have no question about the fact that you elected the best,” said Mr. Rangel.