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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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June 25th, 2014
05:43 PM ET

Charlie Rangel on slim victory: My opponent was more popular than I thought

(CNN) – Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-New York, who was first elected in 1971, claimed victory in what he says is his last race, looking like he'll survive a second straight narrow victory against the same opponent he faced two years ago when he barely kept his political career alive.

Rangel blamed the changing district for his slim margins of victory.

"About 20% of my district now goes to a different county," said Rangel. "My opponent was apparently more popular in that district than I thought he would be."

His challenger, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, had still not conceded Wednesday afternoon.

President Barack Obama did not endorse Rangel two years ago, or this time around, but the New York Democrat says he is not bothered by the lack of attention.

"Take my word for it, I'm not running for a cabinet position," said Rangel, who had the support of the House Democratic leadership.

As a veteran politician, Rangel weighed in on Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Chochran's tactic of mobilizing Democrats, especially African-Americans, to vote in the GOP primary. The six-term senator held off tea party-backed challenger Chris McDaniel

"My God, it just seems to me it makes a lot of sense in view of the fact that the tea party is so unpredictable, and actually don't care too much about the Republican party or the country as we can see as to what happened with Eric Cantor," Rangel said, referring to Cantor's stunning primary defeat.

Rangel had said win or lose this race was his last campaign.

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