Charlie Rangel So Excited to Run for Re-election He Asks Reporter to Dance With Him

Congressman Charlie Rangel today.
Congressman Charlie Rangel today.

Congressman Charlie Rangel officially kicked off his re-election bid in Harlem this afternoon, telling reporters that he “feels so good it scares the hell out of me” and even asking one female journalist to dance with him in celebration.

“Right now I find myself on the dance floor doing things I haven’t done in a long time,” said Mr. Rangel, 83, emphasizing his good health despite his age. Less than a minute later, Mr. Rangel turned to a female reporter and asked, “You know how to dance? Won’t you get up here?”

The reporter, smiling painfully, declined to join Mr. Rangel.

Mr. Rangel, running for his 23rd term, faces several hurdles in his quest to keep his seat. His campaign account is depleted after a failed lawsuit to overturn a Congressional censure stemming from ethics violations. And his district now stretches far beyond his Harlem base into the heavily Latino Bronx.

Mr. Rangel, who came within 1,000 votes of losing to State Senator Adriano Espaillat in the Democratic primary two years ago, also faces several other potentially strong challengers, including Rev. Michael Waldron and Rev. Calvin Butts, who could potentially split the district’s already diminishing black vote.

But the Lion of Harlem, who said he wanted to return to Washington to cement President Barack Obama’s agenda and thwart Tea Party Republicans, brushed aside questions about the viability of his bid and his once-ailing health.

“All the doctors I’ve had haven’t said anything except that I’m fired up and ready to go,” Mr. Rangel said, posing for pictures while flexing his arms. “So anybody want to push me around?”

Mr. Espaillat is widely expected to run again, and blasted out a statement knocking Mr. Rangel shortly after the congressman made his bid official after mulling his decision for several months.

“I am proud of the campaign that I ran nearly two years ago, and the progressive ideas we put forward,” Mr. Espaillat said in the statement. “Since then, voters in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx have watched as Washington has failed to take action on one critical issue for our district after another. Today, as it was two years ago, we need new energy, new leadership and a renewed sense of urgency.”

But Mr. Rangel, whose press conference took place in a dingy, nondescript room on the third floor of an office building, said he wasn’t worried about the opposition and said that Mr. Espaillat, as a sitting state senator, would have to give up his seat to run for Congress if federal and state primary dates are on the same day. That, Mr. Rangel said, made Mr. Espaillat’s status in the race uncertain.

“That would be a political problem for Senator Espaillat as to whether he wants to run for the Congress and give up his seat or no,” Mr. Rangel told Politicker. “The campaign is moving forward, right now, because I think I’m the only one who’s announcing for the seat … I’m not prepared to face anybody. I don’t create candidates.”

As of now, however, state primaries are scheduled for September while federal primaries are in June. The state legislature would have to vote next year to align the dates.  Charlie Rangel So Excited to Run for Re-election He Asks Reporter to Dance With Him