Rangel Fends Off Challengers to Win a Congressional Primary

June 27, 2012
By THOMAS KAPLAN, The New York Times

Surviving one of the toughest re-election fights of his career, Representative Charles B. Rangel fended off four challengers on Tuesday to win the Democratic nomination for a 22nd term in Congress.

“I’m just glad that my community has faith and confidence in me,” Mr. Rangel told reporters shortly before declaring victory at Sylvia’s, the famed Harlem restaurant.

Mr. Rangel’s victory capped a gripping campaign for a Congressional seat that for decades has been at the center of black political power — and preserved a career in Washington that had been threatened by ethics troubles and changing demographics.

Mr. Rangel was censured in 2010 after the House Ethics Committee found him guilty of 11 counts of ethical violations, including failure to pay taxes, improper solicitation of donations and failure to report his personal income accurately.

And because of the decennial redistricting process, Mr. Rangel, who turned 82 this month and had been slowed by back problems, was forced to run in a district that had been extended from Harlem into the Bronx, giving its population a Hispanic majority.

But Mr. Rangel, who was first elected to Congress in 1970, waged a campaign focused on his legislative seniority. And he stressed the backing of many elected officials, suggesting that New York’s political establishment was not ready to usher him from office.

At Sylvia’s, a sign described the congressman as “The Lion of Lenox Avenue.” Assemblyman Keith L. T. Wright, a co-chairman of the state Democratic Party, predicted that Mr. Rangel would serve indefinitely in Congress, saying, “Charlie Rangel might be the Strom Thurmond of Harlem.”

“No one has been through the fire more so than our congressperson,” Mr. Wright said, “and we in the district have sent him back because we have faith in him, and that he has our interests in mind, and quite frankly he’s one of us.”

Mr. Rangel took the stage looking emotional, and sounded a note of damaged pride and fierce determination. He said of his critics, “If they didn’t think after 42 years that I was the best qualified, I promise them that in the next two years they’ll have no question about the fact that we elected the best.”

Yvonne Carr, 61, of West Harlem, was among Mr. Rangel’s supporters. “Sometimes other people throw their hat into the ring, and they haven’t really been out here in this community for a long time,” Ms. Carr said Tuesday morning. “I know he is elderly, but he’s been here.”

To read more, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/27/nyregion/rangel-wins-a-difficult-primary.html?pagewanted=all

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