By Jeff Mays
HARLEM — A defiant Rep. Charlie Rangel declared that he "had to win" Tuesday night after beating his Republican opponent in a landslide victory.
Facing an upcoming ethics trial, Rangel told the press that he wasn't "thinking about the charges tonight," before confiding in some of his closest supporters that had turned out at the Martin Luther King Democratic Club that the last few years have been hard on him.
"It is so hard to share with you what it means when you didn't have any good sleep at night," Rangel said at the club on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and 128th Street.
"We had to win....You ain't seen nothing yet."
Rangel also said that it's time to move beyond the ethics charges.
"We have to pick up the pieces and move forward. So many people have asked me about what happened. What happened I cannot undo," Rangel said.
Joined by former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, Harlem Assembyman Keith Wright and Councilwoman Inez Dickens, Rangel toasted his victory with supporters and received a cake with his face on it.
Dinkins said he is not surprised about Rangel's victory because the ethics charges were questionable.
"Some of us have always known that all this nonsense around ethics was just that so I am not at all surprised by his overwhelming victory. I anticipated it," said Dinkins. "Irrespective of whether or not we have the House, Charlie Rangel, after 40 years of amazing service, will continue to be a very influential voice in the Congress of the United States.
Rangel supporters also said they were pleased with his victory.
"Even with the slander, Charles Rangel takes care of his neighborhood so people came out today and supported him as usual. People enjoy the fact that they can come and talk to their congressman," said Nadine Allen, 34, an operations manager for a telecommunications company who lives in Harlem.
Rangel also chimed in on the specter of Democrats losing control of the House. He said it would require cooperation "on both sides of the aisle" if the country is to move forward and "hold on to health care" while ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"If you lose the House by one or 35, it doesn't make much difference in terms of the perks and the chairmanships. But if you have the exprience and you've been there, it's easy to break through and do the things you need to do," Rangel said.
Dinkins said that President Obama, facing a Republican House, would be wise to lean on someone with Rangel's experience.
"He should seek out the advice and counsel of Charlie Rangel. Other presidents have," Dinkins said.