NEW YORK — Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) admitted that if he were a first-term lawmaker, his political career would be over.
The 20-term lawmaker is facing his first competitive Democratic primary in nearly two decades Tuesday amid an ethics scandal.
The House ethics committee charged Rangel with 13 violations earlier this summer, and a public trial is expected this fall.
"There are so many members they can destroy by just doing nothing," Rangel said of the ethics committee. "If I was a first-termer, it's all over."
It's unclear whether Rangel's trial will happen ahead of the November elections; Rangel told The Hill on Monday he's still in the dark.
The longtime congressman again criticized the committee's handling of the probe and said he has heard "absolutely nothing" from the panel.
The 80-year-old congressman was up early Monday morning, greeting voters outside a Harlem subway stop.
At the intersection of 148th St. and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd., it was a friendly crowd in the heart of Rangel's home base, and most voters greeted the clearly energized congressman warmly.
"We're voting for you — I don't care what they say," said one woman as she embraced Rangel before heading down into the subway.
Rangel faces a handful of primary challengers, led by State Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV, the son of the man Rangel defeated to first capture his congressional seat back in 1970.
Rangel also said he was in contact with the White House late last week and described the conversation as "positive."
"I've talked to the White House in a very favorable way," said Rangel.
The congressman criticized President Obama at a campaign forum last month after Obama suggested that Rangel end his career "with dignity."
Rangel said it's
ultimately up to his district's voters to cast their judgment on the
ethics cloud currently surrounding him in Washington.
"I'm asking the community Tuesday, what do you think?" Rangel said.
For now, Rangel said, he is focused on his primary Tuesday. He suggested the timing of a public ethics trial made little difference at this point.
"After two years, what the hell," Rangel said with a shrug.
— This post was updated at 11:08 a.m.