Representative Charlie Rangel’s political journey and victory in Tuesday’s Democratic primary is inspiring citizens nationwide.
Rangel won the five-way race for the new 13th Congressional District in New York stretching from east Harlem to 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 took 45-perecent of votes while his nearest rival, Senator Adriano Espaillat, collected 40-percent of votes.
Rangel was born and raised in poverty in Puerto Rico and later moved in with his aunt and uncle in the Bronx. He dropped out of high school and shortly after joined the Army, receiving a Bronze Star for rescuing 40 men trapped behind Chinese lines in the Korean War.
He used his G.I. Bill to receive a degree from New York University and went on to receive a law degree from St. John’s University.
Rangel began his political career by serving as an assistant U.S attorney and was later elected to the New York State Assembly in 1966.
In 1970, Rangel defeated area opponent and rival, Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., in the Democratic primary for a U.S. House seat. He went on to defeat Powell’s son in the 2010 primary.
This year’s race posed to be a challenge for Rangel who faced changing demographics and a re-drawn district with more Latino Americans than African-Americans. Although this was a problem for Rangel, it was a benefit to his opponent, Espaillat who spent his campaign targeting Hispanic voters.
David Wasserman, editor of House races for the Cook Political Report believes that despite the heavily Latino district, it was the strong voter turnout of African-Americans in support of Rangel that won him the seat.
"His 2010 primary was more of a referendum on ethics. This was more a test of ethnic strength and a referendum on Rangel's fitness for office," Wasserman said. "He delivered a more tenacious campaign closer to Election Day, and he was able to count on very loyal support to win a low-turnout primary."