Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel, the gravelly-voiced New York City congressman whose career has already lasted more than four decades despite the taint of an ethics scandal, overcame demographic changes in his district to win a chance at a 22nd term on Tuesday.
Rangel defeated Adriano Espaillat and three other contenders in New York's congressional primary, his first election since the House of Representatives censured the 82-year-old Korean War veteran in an ethics controversy focused on taxes and financial disclosure statements.
Rangel was censured in December 2010, shortly after he handily won re-election. He has been a longtime political leader in Harlem, but his influence in the House had waned by the time of his censure. He had stepped down as chairman of one of Congress' most powerful committees earlier that year after he was criticized in a separate ethics investigation.
This year, new questions about Rangel's vulnerability arose after the boundaries of the congressional district covering Harlem were redrawn as part of the once-a-decade redistricting process, with some of Manhattan being taken out of the district and parts of the Bronx added in. That changed its ethnic and racial composition: While the number of blacks stayed roughly the same, there are fewer whites and more Hispanics. Hispanics now make up more than half of the residents and almost half of the eligible voters.
Rangel said he wasn't hampered by the addition of new areas in the Bronx to the district.
"I was pleased to see that a lot of people knew me, there was a connection," he said, adding that his incumbency helped.
"When you're there for four decades, it's kind of hard for you to not be known by most people."
Overall, he said, "it was never a big obstacle to overcome."
Rangel, who is black, also got the support of some Latino public officials and endorsements from politicians including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans in the city, making Rangel the favorite to win the general election in November.
Espaillat had been bidding to be the first Dominican-American in Congress.
"Though we didn't make it to the finish line tonight, the values we fought for and the communities we seek to improve will continue to light a fire in us," he said. "The truth is, even in coming a bit short, we made history. We are most proud of the fact that our campaign introduced bold, new ideas to move New York forward. We will continue to fight for these ideas with every fiber of our being and make our communities stronger than ever."
Rangel was convicted of 11 ethics violations, including failure to pay some taxes and using congressional resources to raise money for an academic center bearing his name. At a hearing in front of the ethics committee, Rangel apologized "for any embarrassment I've caused you individually and collectively as a member of the greatest institution in the world."
After the censure came down, though, he called the vote politically motivated.
In other races:
-- In the 1st district covering the eastern part of Long Island, Republican Randy Altschuler beat George Demos to take on incumbent Tim Bishop in the general election. Bishop narrowly beat Altschuler in 2010.
-- In the 4th district on Long Island, Francis Becker beat Frank Scaturro in the Republican primary.
-- In the 5th district that covers parts of Queens and Nassau County, incumbent Democrat Gregory Meeks defeated Michael Scala.
-- In the 7th district that stretches over parts of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, incumbent Democrat Nydia Velazquez beat City Councilman Erik Dilan.
-- In the 9th district in Brooklyn, incumbent Democrat Yvette Clarke defeated Sylvia Kinard.
-- In the 16th district covering parts of the Bronx and the Hudson Valley, incumbent Democrat Eliot Engel cruised to victory over Aniello Grimaldi.
-- In the 17th district of the lower Hudson Valley, Republican Joseph Carvin defeated Jim Russell.
-- Sean Maloney won the Democratic primary in the 18th district that includes Newburgh, West Point and Carmel, defeating Richard Becker.
-- Julian Schreibman defeated Joel Tyner in a Democratic primary and will face freshman Republican Chris Gibson in November in the 19th district in the Hudson Valley.
-- In northern New York, Matt Doheny defeated Kellie Greene to set up a rematch with incumbent Democrat Bill Owens in the 21st Congressional District. Doheny also has the Conservative line.
-- In the Utica area, Richard Hanna held off Michael Kicinski in his bid for a second term representing the 22nd district.
-- In the 23rd district stretching from Ithaca to Jamestown, Nate Shinagawa beat Leslie Burke in the Democratic primary.