Veteran New York congressman Charlie Rangel seems to have held on in Tuesday's Democratic primary. The third-longest serving member of the House has a lead over just about 1800 votes over his top challenger, state senator Adriano Espaillat. Rangel has claimed victory in the primary, although Espaillat has not yet conceded the race.
Rangel, long known as the congressman from Harlem, faces changing demographics in his Manhattan district. His natural black base there has been largely replaced by Hispanics, particularly Dominican Americans like Espaillat. Add to that Rangel's ethics problems and charges of unreported income and unpaid taxes (which forced him to step down as Ways and Means committee chairman in 2010), and it's no surprise Rangel found himself in a fight. In fact, Espaillat nearly beat him in the Democratic primary in 2012, with Rangel escaping by just a thousand votes.
But as the Washington Post's Wesley Lowery reported, Rangel seemed more ready this time to shore up support in his changing district:
But, vowing to not be taken by surprise, Rangel has campaigned hard and boasts the endorsements of many of the nation’s top Democrats. Former president Bill Clinton, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) have lent their names to Rangel’s reelection bid which, if successful, is likely to make him the second-longest-serving current House member, behind Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), who also is seeking reelection. Rangel’s campaign has worked to underscore his links to local Hispanic communities, rolling out endorsements from Latino leaders.
“The Dominican people have in Congressman Rangel a big supporter and a big ally,” said Victor Gómez Casanova, a member of the Congress of the Dominican Republic who spoke at the birthday gala.