Congressman Charlie Rangel was able to keep his seat in congress after serving for 42 years. Rangel faced off with four other challengers to win the Democratic nomination for a 22nd term in Congress.
CNN highlights Rangel “as resilient as Harlem-area district he represents.” Rangel has been under scrutiny after being found guilty of 11 ethics violations—failure to pay taxes, improper solicitation of donations and failure to report income accurately—and being criticized by the House of Representatives back in 2010.
Duke University African-American studies professor, Mark Anthony Neal says, “One of the great things about Charlie Rangel is his longevity. And there are lots of people who see his ability to stay on the game as representative of Harlem…The idea of Harlem always being on the ropes and being able to bounce back, that’s been the story of Rangel’s political career.”
Rangel’s main competitor, Senator Adriano Espilliat got 40% of the votes while Rangel got about 45%. Espaillat, the first Domican-American to serve in the House, used his background and used Rangel’s ethics abuse during his tenure in Washington to land him the Latino voters. The other three candidates included Clyde Williams, a former adviser to President Clinton and Joyce Johnson, a former local Democratic district leader.
Despite the challenges, including the deccenial redistricting process. Rangel faced a changing of demographic when the district he was running in was redrawn which now includes a majority of Latino-Americans than African-American—which was a leg-up for Espaillat.
Espaillat acknowledged his defeat and told supporters, “We came slightly short this time…The summer of 2012 will always be remembered as the summer when northern Manhattan came together.” Espaillat goes on to saying he will be working closely with Rangel “to make sure the community gets what it deserves to get.”
After being chastised by the media about his morale, Rangel told his doubters, “If (the newspaper editorial boards) didn’t think, after 42 years, that I was the best qualified, I promise them in the next two years, they’ll have no questions of the fact that you elected the best.”