Longtime New York Rep. Charlie Rangel survived his Democratic primary against Adriano Espaillat, sending the third most tenured member of the House back to Congress for his 23rd term.
The Associated Press took until Wednesday to call the close race for Rangel. The congressman, however, did not wait to declare victory, dropping balloons to celebrate at a victory party with supporters late Tuesday.
"Words cannot describe my overwhelming gratitude to the voters of the 13th Congressional District of our great state for standing with me to the very end and giving this veteran his one last fight," Rangel said in a statement after the AP declared him the winner.
The race was rematch of a bitterly fought 2012 campaign that ended with Rangel prevailing over the New York State senator by fewer than 1,100 votes.
Ethical woes and the changing demographics of Rangel’s New York City district have made the 84-year-old’s last two campaigns the fiercest of his political career. Espaillat argued that Rangel had become entrenched in the ways of Washington, pointing to his 2010 House censure for financial improprieties.
Rangel’s biggest hurdle to overcome may have been the changing demographics of the New York’s 13th Congressional District, which was redrawn after the 2010 census to include areas of the Bronx along with his political base in Harlem. The district shifted from being a majority of black voters to a Hispanic majority.
Rangel is favored to easily win November's general election in the heavily Democratic district.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.