Rep. Charlie Rangel's journey from Harlem's favorite son to politically embattled Washington insider to campaign victor is a saga that spans more than 40 years and is the type of tale that only seems possible in the soap opera-like world of inside the Beltway politics.
Rangel's comeback tale is as much a testament to his political savvy as it is the resiliency of the area he represents.
"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," said Mark Anthony Neal, an African-American studies professor at Duke University and author of "New Black Man: Rethinking Black Masculinity." "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 claimed victory Tuesday in the Democratic primary to represent a redrawn, largely Latino New York district, capping a tale of political survival for the lawmaker, whose House colleagues censured him for ethics violations after his re-election to his 21st term in 2010.
On Tuesday night, he offered relieved thanks to supporters at his campaign headquarters in New York after clinching the five-way race for the nomination in his Harlem-area district. The new 13th Congressional District stretches from East Harlem to the northwest Bronx.
"They've had enough trust in me, they say, 'Rangel, we think you can do it. We want you on our team in the Bronx,' " he said. "And so I can tell everybody who don't know this district or the Bronx, when I'm walking the streets of the Bronx, I feel my district and the blood and the minds and the ambitions and the things that people want for their children."
Rangel netted about 45% of the vote, compared with his closest rival, New York state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who got about 40% in the latest count.
Rangel received 80% of the vote in the 2010 primary.
Espaillat, 57, who would have been the first Dominican-American to serve in the House, used his background to court Latino votes and take aim at the 82-year-old Rangel over his long tenure in Washington and his ethics abuses.
On Tuesday, Espaillat sent a note to supporters, thanking them and conceding the race.