5 Keys to Primary Day: Cochran and Rangel Hang in the Balance

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. (Photo: Seth Wenig, AP)
Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. (Photo: Seth Wenig, AP)

The political careers of Sen. Thad Cochran and Rep. Charles Rangel — iconic politicians who between them have spent 84 years in Congress — hang in the balance as voters go to the polls Tuesday.

Here’s a look at the five races to watch as Mississippi, Colorado, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma and Utah voters go to the polls. Voters in southwest Florida will also elect a new member of Congress to succeed Republican Trey Radel, who resigned after he was busted for cocaine possession.

MISSISSIPPI SENATE: Cochran, a six-term Republican, is trying to fend off Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel, who forced the senator into a runoff for the GOP nomination.

McDaniel has been stressing that Cochran has driven up the nation’s debt through his work on the Appropriations Committee. McDaniel, a state senator and former talk radio host, also supports term limits and notes Cochran was first elected to the U.S. House in 1972 and to the U.S. Senate in 1978.

Cochran’s supporters have been appealing to Democrats — especially black voters — as they tout his experience in helping Mississippi obtain federal aid. If Republicans win control of the Senate, Cochran would reclaim the chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee. Outside groups have poured more than $12 million into Mississippi for the campaign, according to a Sunlight Foundation analysis.

The GOP nominee will be the favorite in November against Democrat Travis Childers, a former congressman, in a state that Mitt Romney carried by 11 percentage points in 2012.

NEW YORK — 13th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: For a generation of black voters in New York City’s Harlem, Rangel is the only congressman they have ever known. But the 13th District is now majority Hispanic, thanks to changing demographics in Harlem and Bronx neighborhoods drawn into the district in 2010.

Rangel, first elected in 1970, talks about his 22 terms in Congress as an asset but Democratic primary rival Adriano Espaillat says it’s time for change. Espaillat came within about 1,100 votes of unseating Rangel in 2012, and says Rangel has been too close to Wall Street. Rangel, who gave up the House Ways and Means Committee chairmanship amid a 2010 ethics investigation, has emphasized his legislative experience and criticized Espaillat’s record as a state senator in Albany.

“Just what the heck has he done besides saying he’s a Dominican?” Rangel asked, raising eyebrows with his comment at a debate.

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SOURCE: Catalina Camia
USA TODAY

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