Rangel ‘Can’t Wait’ to Meet With Obama After Likely Win

Congressman Charlie Rangel at a Harlem rally last week. (Photo: Ross Barkan)

Congressman Charlie Rangel at a Harlem rally last week. (Photo: Ross Barkan)

Congressman Charlie Rangel, likely to survive another two years in Washington, said today he can’t wait to work with the major political figures–like President Barack Obama and Mayor Bill de Blasio–who spurned him.

In a brief interview on the Geraldo Rivera Show, Mr. Rangel also claimed his renewed health helped him to stave off another furious challenge from State Senator Adriano Espaillat.

“Let me tell you, it was no secret and I guess I never wanted anyone to feel sorry for me but I was in really in bad shape during the last election and that’s a hell of a thing for a politician to have to admit,” Mr. Rangel said. “But I had a spinal infection, I was in a hospital when the lines were redrawn and I did the best I could.”

Mr. Espaillat has not conceded against the 84-year-old Harlem lawmaker, but he still trails by about 2,000 votes in unofficial tallies and observers say it’s unlikely that he can knock off Mr. Rangel even after paper ballots are counted. After nearly unseating Mr. Rangel two years ago, a loss would be devastating for Mr. Espaillat and much of the city’s Democratic establishment that fell behind the uptown pol.

Mr. Obama, Mr. de Blasio and Rev. Al Sharpton all stayed neutral in the race for the upper Manhattan and Bronx-based seat. The lack of endorsements from the three major Democrats were viewed as slights towards Mr. Rangel, but the congressman did not appear to hold too much ill will toward any of them.

“Oh the president … I can’t wait to meet up with him,” Mr. Rangel said, laughing. “I kind of think the president has his hands filled with what he has to do and one of the main reasons I wanted to wrap up with these two years because there’s so much on his agenda that the Tea Party has really thrown into a gridlock.”

And Mr. de Blasio, who Mr. Rangel said favored long-shot contender Pastor Mike Walrond, shouldn’t expect ill will from Mr. Rangel.

“The reasons the mayor did not endorse me or the reasons that the Rev. Sharpton did not endorse me are so strange that I can have no animosity because I can’t figure it out. And when you win you don’t have to take time to figure it out,” Mr. Rangel said.

“The reasons other people that made the decisions, they took a look at the different ethnic groups that they thought for their petty political ambitions in the long run Rangel wouldn’t be around and that they wanted to be on the side they thought the population would be going in,” he added. “I will have to get along with these people.”