Out With the Old?

Rep. Charles Rangel faces a serious Democratic primary challenge in newly drawn New York district.

Posted: 04/02/2012 05:45 PM EDT

Those who are intimately familiar with the way Washington works had little doubt that Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) would be re-elected, even at the height of his ethics woes when the House censured him in 2010 for financial improprieties. In 2012, however, he may not be so lucky. New York state Sen. Adriano Espaillat announced this week plans to challenge the famously raspy-voiced dean of the state’s congressional delegation.

 

“I believe that the people of the 13th congressional district are searching for leadership with bold, new ideas in Washington, D.C.,” Espaillat said.

 

Espaillat, a Dominican-American who was elected to the state legislature in 1996, is a neophyte when compared to the lifetime Rangel has spent in the House, 42 years. But he’s got one advantage: The district has lost a significant percentage of African-American voters, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, and is now 55.1 percent Latino.

 

David Bositis, senior political analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, told BET.com that Espaillat is a more serious opponent than previous challengers.

 

“But I wouldn’t bet on him beating Rangel, who’s still got it,” Bositis said, adding that while the elder statesman is no longer an up-and-comer and had to step aside as chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, he’s still a very influential voice.

 

Rangel, who has been dealing with a back injury, denied on Friday rumors he planned to stay in office until a successor is identified.

 

“I intend to serve my entire term,” he said in a campaign statement. “There is no wiggle room.”

 

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