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Charles Rangel Fends Off Primary Challenge

Rep. Charles Rangel declares victory. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Rep. Charles Rangel declares victory. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

(The Root) — Rep. Charlie Rangel has managed to hold on to his seat in Congress for now, after a short and tense Democratic primary race in which his victory was by no means considered a sure bet. A redrawn district that is majority Latino, health problems and a recent House censure for ethics violations were all elements that threatened to loosen the grip he has had for 42 years on his seat in Congress. But the strongest challenger in New York's 15th congressional district, New York state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, was unable to leverage his own strong ties in the heavily Latino Bronx sections of the redrawn district to topple Rangel.


With 84 percent of the precincts reporting and Rangel leading Espaillat 45 percent to 40 percent, the Associated Press called the race for Rangel. Running a distant third was Clyde Williams, a former Clinton-administration official. A win in the heavily Democratic district all but ensures that Rangel will prevail in the general election.

In his victory speech, Rangel spoke of unity between the Bronx and Manhattan portions of his district. As for the naysayers, "I hate to disappoint my opponents for misjudging the importance of medical science," quipped the 82-year-old, who struggled with back problems earlier this year. Taking shots at the editorial boards at newspapers — the New York Times and the Daily News both endorsed Clyde Williams — Rangel called them "very strange people."


"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 you elected the best," he told cheering supporters at Sylvia's, a famous soul food restaurant in Harlem.

Hakeem Jeffries Takes Fast Track to Congress

Elsewhere in New York City, State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries was declared the winner over City Councilman Charles Barron in the primary race for Rep. Ed Towns' seat in Brooklyn's 8th Congressional District. Jeffries' victory in a heavily Democratic district all but guarantees that he will win the general election. Towns is set to retire at the end of his 15th term.

Sheryl Huggins Salomon is senior editor-at-large of The Root and a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based editorial consultant. Follow her on Twitter.

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