Charles Rangel, Longtime Harlem Congressman, To Seek Re-Election

NPR icon by Adam Wollner
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Haraz N. Ghanbari

Rep. Charles Rangel, the third-longest-serving member of Congress, announced Thursday he will seek a 23rd term in office next year.

There had been speculation that the New York Democrat, a veteran member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, would retire at the end of this term. But the 83-year-old Rangel, who could face a tough primary, said he still has "unfinished business" to tend to in the House.

"I have heard the skeptics and the chattering classes wondering whether I remain committed to representing our congressional district which I have passionately served for more than 40 years," Rangel wrote in an op-ed for the New York Daily News. "After reflection and speaking with constituents in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx I proudly represent, I am all the more fired up about fighting to advance the unfinished business under the most exciting presidency in my lifetime."

Despite his seniority, Rangel, the co-founder of the Black Congressional Caucus, is no shoo-in to retain his Harlem-area seat. State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, a Dominican-American who nearly defeated him in the 2012 Democratic primary, is considering another bid. Two black clergymen are also exploring a run in the overwhelmingly Democratic 13th District.

Rangel's 2012 campaign marked the toughest of his career, as he was forced to adjust to the new demographics of his heavily redrawn congressional district while continuing to deal with the fallout over a 2010 ethics case over his personal finances.

Rangel stepped down as the chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee following charges he violated congressional ethics rules in March 2010. He was ultimately censured on the House floor that December, the strongest punishment Congress can impose on a member aside from expulsion.

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