Two very different sitting incumbents-- New York Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel and Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch-- defied the odds Tuesday night and won re-election despite strong primary challenges in their respective states.
While Hatch had for some time appeared a shoo-in for re-election, Rangel's fate was far less certain. But Rangel on Tuesday emerged victorious from an arduous House primary, beating back a strong challenge from state Sen. Adriano Espaillat in the newly redistricted Hispanic-majority 13th District.
Rangel led Espaillat 50 to 33 percent with 70 percent of precincts reporting. Three additional Democrats, including former Bill Clinton aide Clyde Williams, split the remainder of the vote in the 13th.
Many had cast Tuesday's Democratic primary as the most difficult of Rangel's storied 41-year House career after redistricting left the 82-year-old, who is black, running in a new district that was not black-majority. Espaillat, who is Dominican-America, shored up Latino support as well as local Democratic and union backing in a race in which he's positioned himself as a fresh face who could restore voters' faith in Congress.
But Rangel's longtime service and extensive political network continued to benefit Rangel this cycle, earning him high-profile endorsements from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor Ed Koch and others.
Tuesday marked Rangel's first election since the House voted to censure him in Dec. 2010 for multiple ethics violations, including failing to report and pay taxes on rental income, improperly soliciting donations, and improperly operating a campaign office.
In Utah, Hatch easily clinched his party's nomination Tuesday over former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist. Hatch led with 68 percent to 32 percent for Liljenquist with 28 percent reporting.
Hatch, a 35-year Senate veteran, had been marked for defeat by the tea party last year, which accused Hatch of becoming too much of an establishment figure and a moderate for the conservative state. With tea party backing, Liljenquist prevented Hatch from winning his party's nomination outright at the state GOP convention in April.
But the senator remained more well-funded than his challenger, more well-known, and was able to effectively argue that his experience and seniority would benefit the state.