‘Old horse’ Rangel hits the Harlem church circuit

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Charlie Rangel in Harlem. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
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On the last Sunday of his final re-election campaign, Rep. Charlie Rangel visited seven Harlem churches, encouraging congregants to vote on Tuesday and emphasizing his long career in Congress.

“Lenox Ave. is gonna be in the House of Representatives,” he told the congregation at his last stop, Memorial Baptist Church, in the early afternoon.

He continued, “We’ve made this community so good that downtown has come uptown, and they’re trying to push us out of town.”

Rangel is trying to keep from being pushed out of Congress by a strong challenge from State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who came within about 1,000 votes of unseating Rangel two years ago. This year, Rangel has mounted a more vigorous campaign, touting his four decades in the House as a reason to give him one final term.

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At the end of his few minutes before the congregation at Memorial Baptist Church, he said the district shouldn’t trade “an old horse that keeps on winning” for “a colt that doesn’t know which way it is to the track.”

Rangel was introduced by Public Advocate Letitia James, who first gave thanks to “God, who is the head of my life and from whom all blessings flow,” and who brought greetings from her church, “Emmanuel Baptist Church in a faraway place called Brooklyn.”

“If anything should happen to Mayor Bill de Blasio, you’re looking at the next mayor of the City of New York,” she said, to cheers from the crowd, who she thanked for electing the Rev. Dr. Renee F. Washington Garner, the first female pastor at an established Harlem Baptist church. 

As she did yesterday, James lauded Rangel’s service in Korea.

“He battled for our freedom and our democracy. He battled for the right to let you kids say whatever you wanna say,” she said.

“Long before the tale of two cities,” she told the congregation, Rangel had introduced the Earned Income Tax Credit and worked for affordable housing, “so that we will not be priced out of our neighborhoods.”

“And so now on Tuesday, you have a opportunity,” she told the congregation, to re-elect “the Lion of Lenox Avenue who still roars.”

James also recognized Councilwoman Inez Dickens, who was present, for her work on Rangel’s campaign.

The Rev. Gardner paid tribute to Rangel, who sat front and center before the pulpit as she spoke.

“Not to take time from worship, but this is also a kind of worship. So many times we can get caught up and not realize that we could lose our community right before our eyes—amen,” she said. “We are at a crucial time, and a critical time in the life and the legacy of the Harlem community—amen.”

“You know this Tuesday is a very important day—amen,” she continued. “And so I’m not telling you what to do, I’m just letting you know, you know what you have.”

“I know that Congressman Rangel has been a friend to us,” she said to her congregation, “and he’s been a friend to the Harlem community.”

Rangel exited to cries of “Amen!” After he did, the Rev. Gardner told her congregation, “He just left his donation up here on the pulpit.”