WASHINGTON – Rep. Charles Rangel, a senior Democrat in Congress and the dean of New York's congressional delegation, said Wednesday he'll retire if the Democrats don't retake control of the House this year.
"I'm a poker player and I've had good hands all night long. This is all in," Rangel said in an interview. "I would not put everything on the table if I thought for one minute we would lose."
Rangel, ranking Democrat on the House Ways & Means Committee, is 76 years old and has spent 35 years in Congress. The Democrats need to gain 15 seats in the 2006 midterm election to retake control of the House — a victory that would return Rangel to the chairmanship of the powerful committee.
"Hell, if we don't take back the House, then the Democrats would go down in history, saying that there's no group in the world that can grab defeat from the jaws of victory," Rangel said in an interview Wednesday. "It just seems like America is so frustrated and fed up like I am and if she's not, then I may have to say maybe it's me."
The Washington Post reported in Wednesday's editions that Rangel would leave Congress if the GOP retained control of the House.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosisaid she was with Rangel at a Harlem church on Sunday, and he never mentioned the possibility of leaving Congress.
"That was news to me," said Pelosi. "We're counting on winning, and we're working very hard in that regard. And when we do, he'll make a great chair of the Ways & Means Committee."