Monday, December 22, 2014

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In this special series, NY1's Michael Scotto looks at the re-election campaign of Rep. Charles Rangel, who says he's running for one final term in his four-decade career representing Upper Manhattan.

Rangel's Last Run: Almost 84, Congressman Says There's Still Work To Do

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He's just a few days shy of his 84th birthday, but Rep. Charles Rangel is running harder than ever. NY1’s Washington Bureau Reporter Michael Scotto has been following him on the campaign trail this spring and has this report in part two of his series, "Rangel's Last Run."

“I've only got three minutes. I got to get off the phone,” said Rep. Charles Rangel at a recent debate.

Rangel’s now-famous imaginary cell phone conversation proved no one is better at generating attention. At 83-years-old, the 22-term congressman is running like the underdog.

On any given day, Rangel can be seen hammering away at his opponents.

“Nobody has said who would be the better congressman,” said Rangel.

Or breathlessly walking the halls of the Capitol.

“How are you doing, my buddy?” he said.

Where he tries to show he's not only popular.

“I'm proud to endorse him,” said Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

But the hardest worker in town.

“We start off at about 7 in the morning. I very seldom leave here before 10:00, 10:30 at night,” he said.

Rangel has no choice. His two main rivals have given him a run for his money.

State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, in particular, has snatched up the support of several high-profile politicians who had always been on Rangel's side.

“Now is the time to send a representative the way other neighborhoods in the city have, with fresh leadership, new blood,” said City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

That narrative clearly annoys the congressman. But he has been able to counter it.

In late May, Rangel surprised everyone, including himself, when he landed the support of the powerful healthcare workers union, Local 1199.

“After what happened with a couple of other unions, I had no idea what would happen,” Rangel said.

These days, Rangel is faster and in much better health than he was two years ago, when he was suffering from a serious back infection.

The ethics scandal that resulted in his being censured is behind him. So why not retire now? What else is left to do?

“We have to surround the president with soldiers and strong soldiers that can stand up and be fearless in saying that we're not going to let anybody turn us around,” Rangel said.

If he wins later this month, Rangel promises he's not going to run again in 2016.

“This is it,” he said.

We'll see.

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