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Charlie Rangel Survives, Rick Lazio Falls in New York Primary Contests

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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.

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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.

Attorney General:

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:

14th District: 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.

19th District: 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.

23rd District: 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.

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How is this country ever going to straighten our political system out when we re-elect people like Rangel when we know he didn't propperly pay his taxes? This has got to stop. If a person does something illegal we need to dump them, it shouldn't make any difference of which party either.

September 16 2010 at 1:20 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

It just goes to show how far an arrogant tax cheat can go in DC or Harlem.

September 15 2010 at 10:11 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

Why dosen't Rangel retire.........that's where the money is

September 15 2010 at 7:41 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

Rangel??? Really??? Waht is it that keeps the man in office, especially at such a time in his career?

September 15 2010 at 7:36 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

Charlie reminds me of the guy he beat centuries ago..Adam Clayton Powell.. living in Bimini and never showing up to vote in DC... Powell was better, he did not lie about anything, what you saw was what you got..Charlie way too big for his britches...

September 15 2010 at 1:51 PM Report abuse +18 rate up rate down Reply

This is outrages that he is still around , It remains me when the mayor of DC was reelected after he was busted smoking crack pipe . The people who voted for him get what they deserve and voted for .

September 15 2010 at 11:43 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

i can't for the life of me understand why charlie rangell keeps getting voted in ????

September 15 2010 at 11:33 AM Report abuse +26 rate up rate down Reply

Despite having a well deserved reputation as a nice guy, Charlie Rangel is 80 years old, an ethics nightmare and probably a crook. What's wrong with the people in Harlem? If they don't think they deserve better, they should get what they deserve.

September 15 2010 at 11:09 AM Report abuse +25 rate up rate down Reply

Rangel is 80 years old. Why doesnt he just retire and be done with it? The ethics violations he is charged with will only leave him in disgrace and having to give up his seat in congress anyway.

September 15 2010 at 10:36 AM Report abuse +28 rate up rate down Reply

The people of New York must be fools to vote for Rangel.I wonder hom much money Rangel paid for the votes.I hope come November the people of New York think before they vote him in again.Rangel can do what he wants and think he will get away with it, but if that were you are I we would be in jail.People of New York be smart in November.

September 15 2010 at 10:21 AM Report abuse +36 rate up rate down Reply

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