New York Congressman Charlie Rangel survived his toughest battle since his days as a foot soldier in the Korean War when he overcame ethics charges to win the Democratic primary for a 21st term in Congress. The veteran Harlem lawmaker's triumph came as Carl Paladino, a political novice with Tea Party support, upset the Republican establishment choice, Rick Lazio, for governor of New York.
On a day when most of New York's contested races were fought among Republicans, the fate of the former chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee remained unclear until the votes came in. Though Rangel brushed off a looming ethics trial at his 80th birthday
last month, declaring, "I've been to a lot of funerals, but this damn sure ain't no funeral, is it?", he also called the contest his "final judgment" from voters who had given him the nod for 40 years.
Rangel retained the backing of political heavyweights like former President Bill Clinton and New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg as he faced five challengers for his party's nomination. First among them was Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV
, whose family name graces a Harlem boulevard in honor of his father. Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was beset by his own ethics charges when Rangel knocked him off in the 1970 Democratic primary.
Although winning the Democratic nomination is tantamount to election in the overwhelmingly Democratic district, Rangel can hardly rest easy. Despite a rambling floor speech appealing for a quick conclusion to his ethics case, proceedings against him are likely to stretch
until after the election.
More Primary Elections Coverage:
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- O'Donnell, Paul and the Primaries
- Ayotte Beats Lamontagne in NH Primary
- Wisconsin: Johnson to Face Feingold
- Rep. Stephen Lynch Survives in Mass.
- O'Donnell Stuns Castle in Delaware
- Robitaille, Caprio, Chafee in RI Gov. Race
- O'Malley to Face Ehrlich in Maryland
- Politics Daily: Full 2010 Elections Coverage
Upstate voters came out in a low-turnout primary to anoint Paladino, 63, of Buffalo as the Republican candidate for governor. The millionaire developer clobbered the choice of party leaders, former Long Island congressman Rick Lazio, riding to victory on a wave of voter anger at Albany.
"There's a people's revolution," Paladino told supporters. "The people have had enough."
The blunt-spoken and often controversial Paladino -- he said President Barack Obama's health care bill would kill more Americans than the 9/11 attacks -- has said he will spend $10 million of his own money in the general election.
Lazio, best known nationally for getting in then First Lady Hillary Clinton's face
during a 2000 Senate debate, struggled to raise funds. And despite blanketing cable TV opposing a planned Islamic community center two blocks from Ground Zero, he never gained traction. He is likely, however, to remain on the ballot on the Conservative Party line.
Paladino's victory glow may be short-lived, given he has won the dubious honor
of facing Democratic State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in November. A Siena College poll
shows Cuomo with more than a 30-point edge to win his father Mario's old job in Albany.
The primary results came after a day of problems
with new voting machines in New York City. Polling places opened as much as four hours late as workers waited for machines to arrive or boot up. Meanwhile, voters waited and worried whether their ballot would be secret without the traditional curtains that generations of New Yorkers were used to closing behind them in the old voting booths.
A look at the other races:
Former congressman Joe DioGuardi appeared headed for the Republican nomination to take on incumbent Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. The first practicing certified public accountant elected to Congress, DioGuardi beat economist David Malpass and lawyer Bruce Blakeman but faces long odds in November. Gillibrand was appointed last year by Gov. David Paterson to replace Hillary Clinton and is heavily favored in her first test before statewide voters.
Republican political consultant Jay Townsend appeared to edge out retired CIA officer Gary Berntsen for the equally thankless task of taking on Democratic incumbent Charles Schumer. He's so certain of a third term that his most challenging contest may be to succeed Majority Leader Harry Reid if he loses his re-election bid in Nevada.
State Sen. Eric Schneiderman from Manhattan narrowly defeated Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice in a five-candidate race for the Democratic nomination to replace Cuomo as state attorney general. Touting his endorsements from labor unions and the Rev. Al Sharpton, Schneiderman ran as an unabashed liberal
. Rice, a Republican until switching parties in 2005, ran as a tough-minded prosecutor set on battling corruption in Albany. Former Navy captain and trial lawyer John P. "Sean" Coffey finished third.
Other House races:
: Nine-term Democrat Carolyn Maloney pummeled 34-year-old hedge fund manager Reshma Saujani
in New York's Silk Stocking District. Saujani, whose supporters included hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and Grammy Award-winning singer John Legend, ran as a champion of Wall Street opposed to the incumbent's support for financial regulations.
: Westchester County ophthalmologist Nan Hayworth easily defeated Tea Party candidate Neil Di Carlo in the Republican primary. An abortion-rights supporter whose moderate views play well in a suburban swing district that Obama barely carried, the wealthy Hayworth will partially use her own money to unseat two-term incumbent Democrat John Hall. Polls show the two neck-and-neck and it's unclear whether the only rock musician ever elected to Congress
will return for an encore.
: Conservative Doug Hoffman, whose run from the right in last year's special election forced moderate Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava out of the race, all but handing the traditionally GOP seat
to Democrat Bill Owens, may not get a rematch. The national conservative figures like Sarah Palin who had helped him stayed away this time while challenger Matt Doheny scooped up support from local Republican leaders. Doheny, who made a fortune on Wall Street, will take on Owens with the help of upstate tea party activists who vowed to throw their support to him if Hoffman lost.