Harlem Democrat Says He's Still Got It At 82, But State Senator Says Otherwise

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Congressman Charles Rangel has been in Congress seemingly forever. But will the dean of New York’s delegation survive?

On Tuesday, Rangel will duke it out in a Democratic primary to decide whether he gets a 22nd term in the House, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

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He’s 82, has served in Congress through eight presidents, starting with Richard Nixon, and after 42 years in the House he wants another term.

“I had really looked forward to retirement, but there’s no question in my mind that I can make a difference,” Rangel said Friday.

There’s also no question that this time around the race is different for the man known in his Harlem community as the “lion of Lenox Avenue.”

His district has been redrawn to include parts of the Bronx and Washington Heights with heavily Hispanic populations and a popular state senator, Adriano Espaillat, is among his aggressive challengers.

“One of my opponents said that I got the idea that I’m the only person that can do the job, that I’m the smartest person in the world and no one is smart enough to do it. I said that’s not so. I’m just smarter than you,” Rangel said.

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It may be his toughest campaign yet but Rangel has lost none of his toughness. He weathered an ethics scandal two years ago, suffered the embarrassment of having then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi deliver the censure motion. This time, though, Pelosi is endorsing his candidacy.

Senator Espaillat, however, said it’s time for a new face.

“When he first got there Nixon was the president, Joe Namath was playing for the Jets and the Mets won their first championship. That was a long time ago and things are different now. Our goals and challenges are vastly different,” Espaillat said.

June primaries are rare in New York. The last one was 40 years ago, so pundits think this is going to be a low turnout race. Translation: the candidate who gets their voters to the polls is the one who will win.

Congressman Rangel has three other challengers: Clyde Williams, Joyce Johnson and Craig Schley.

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