Congressman Charlie Rangel, who is fighting one of the toughest re-election battles of his life, today heaped praise on Mayor Bill de Blasio–who has yet to offer his endorsement in Mr. Rangel’s race.
“I am so excited!” Mr. Rangel said, standing next to Mr. de Blasio in front of a Bronx housing development this afternoon to tout his new affordable housing plan. “Mr. Mayor, I cannot tell you how proud I am of your leadership, how proud I am to be in New York. This is going to be a national program, but we’ve got to get our money first.”
“This is a man who understands his priorities!” Mr. de Blasio said in response.
Mr. Rangel is currently locked in a heated race against State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who came within just over 1,000 votes of beating him two years ago, Pastor Michael Walrond and Yolanda Garcia, as he seeks a 23rd term representing Upper Manhattan and parts of the Bronx.
Mr. de Blasio and Mr. Rangel go back years–with Mr. de Blasio once managing one of Mr. Rangel’s campaigns–but Mr. de Blasio has so far decided not to wade into the race, insisting that it’s too soon. In the past, Mr. de Blasio has praised Mr. Walrond, an early endorser of the new mayor’s campaign.
Speaking to reporters after the press conference today, Mr. Rangel said he hadn’t approached the mayor to ask explicitly for his endorsement.
“Not yet, no. Not directly. But …. everyone knows, whatever support I get politically is wanted. That’s public officials, that’s labor leaders, community groups, whatever it is,” he said, adding that, no matter what happens, he is proud of his record.
“No one deals with my qualifications for the job, so whatever problem they have, it has nothing to do with me being the best,” he said. “At 83, goin’ on 84, nobody’s more aware of time ticking than me,” he added when pressed on the approach of Election Day.
Mr. Rangel–who noted he will be meeting with the mayor tomorrow, along with the rest of the city’s congressional delegation–went on to say that he has never taken taken the endorsement of an opponent personally.
“I never have been upset. Nobody’s ever seen me upset in all of the years I’ve been in politics,” he said, brushing off the fact that he and Mr. de Blasio had a long history. “That’s something you should tell him, not me. I know the good I’ve done–for everybody. And they know, too! So that’s not my problem, persuading people who’s the best and what I’ve done for them.”
Asked how he would feel if Mr. de Blasio decided to endorse Mr. Espaillat, Mr. Rangel pivoted back to his record, insisting that even those who’ve turned on him have commended his tenure in office.
“There hasn’t been anyone that has endorsed me that has changed that’s said that I’m too old, I don’t have enough experience, that I don’t have the energy,” he said. “I’m so pleased that whatever reason they have, it has nothing to do with who the best candidate would be. So how can I get angry when people keep saying nice things?”