By Jeff Mays
HARLEM — Many thought that after Rep. Charlie Rangel was forced to step aside as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and then censured on the House floor, the Harlem congressman's 21st term would be his last.
They thought wrong.
Rangel, who won both his primary and general re-election in landslides, has filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission to seek a 22nd term. The paperwork comes more than a year before the deadline.
"In order to raise money and do the things you have to do to be a candidate you have to register," Rangel campaign spokesperson Bob Liff told DNAinfo. "We are getting questions today as if there is something shocking. If you want to raise money you have to file."
In December, Rangel's colleagues voted 333 to 79 to censure him for ethics violations. Rangel stood silently on the House floor as he received a formal reprimand from then-House speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"At no time has it ever entered my mind to enrich myself or do violence to what is expected of all of us in this house," Rangel said at the time. "I know in my heart that I'm not going to be judged by this Congress, but by my life, my activities, my contributions to society."
Since then, Liff said, Rangel has tried to live that out.
"He's back being a congressman. He's battling out over the tax issue. It's gratifying because he's back to doing what he was elected to do. This is not a song and dance," Liff said. "He's back. He's Charlie Rangel."
Another possible reason for the early filing could be the upcoming redistricting fight. Politico reported that other long-time House members such as Reps. John Conyers and John Dingell of Michigan both announced they were running again.
"They don’t want any ambiguousness about whether they will run," Tom King, a former political director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told Politico. "It’s a sign of weakness."
"Charlie Rangel looks like he's ready to serve another two decades," Wright told DNAinfo. "He's at the top of his game. He's scoring a triple double every night."