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New York - 15th District

Incumbent -- Charles B. Rangel (D) ; Running for re-election

Safe Democratic
Race Ratings Key

Updated Oct. 14, 2010

Don't expect to see much of Rangel this fall.

While Republicans are pushing for an ethics trial before the elections, Democratic leaders will do everything they can to keep him out of the headlines this fall. And Rangel, 80, probably did his most intense campaigning in August and September, when he was forced onto the campaign trail to stave off attacks from a crowded primary field.

Rangel won handily, despite the rash of outstanding ethics charges.

In November, Rangel faces Harlem pastor and former Virginia Tech All-American football player Michel Faulkner (R). But he has already vowed not to go negative, instead accusing Democratic leaders of racism and throwing Rangel "under the bus."


District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

The 15th takes in Upper Manhattan's Harlem and Washington Heights, stretching to Inwood at its tip, and picks up Marble Hill north of the Harlem River. East of Manhattan, it includes Randalls, Wards and Rikers islands, and a small industrial area of Queens. At only 10 square miles in size, the 15th is the nation's smallest district in area.

The past two decades have brought substantial change to the district, with Puerto Rican and Dominican immigrants -- primarily in East Harlem and Washington Heights -- supplanting an African-American majority. Hispanics now far outnumber non-Hispanic blacks, but low voter participation among Hispanics means the smaller black population (26 percent) continues to dominate the district's politics.

North Manhattan's 1994 federal empowerment zone designation resulted in an economic resurgence. Refurbished brownstones, new restaurants, national retail chains and prominent corporations have moved into the area. Washington Heights is experiencing similar revitalization.

The district's hospitals and colleges, along with its retail establishments and small businesses, provide much of the employment, although many jobs are out of reach to less-educated residents. The 15th's universities include Columbia, and the area's health care industry hosts major research and teaching hospitals, including parts of New York Presbyterian Hospital. Many residents are employed on Rikers Island, the city's correctional facility in the East River that has roughly 13,000 inmates and is officially part of the Bronx, but is connected to Queens by a bridge.

Since its creation in 1944, the decidedly liberal 15th District seat has been held by two black Democrats: Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Charles B. Rangel. In the 2008 presidential race, the district gave Barack Obama 93 percent, his second-highest percentage in the nation.

Major Industry

Health care, higher education, retail, city government


New York (pt.), 639,873


The 15th boasts legendary venues such as the Cotton Club and the Apollo Theater.




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