NEW YORK --Senator Adriano Espaillat has conceded the Democratic primary race to U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel today.
He called to congratulate Rep. Rangel and released a statement saying:
"I want to express my deepest appreciation for all of the efforts of my supporters and volunteers on my campaign for Congress," he said. "My sincerest thanks goes out to the unwavering endorsements provided to me from all of the labor unions, newspapers, advocacy groups, elected officials, and community leaders. Even though I will not be representing the 13th District in Congress, I will continue to fight for Opportunity for All. While much has been written about the politics of race and ethnicity within this District, there is no question that our campaign focused on bringing the community together around our shared needs and struggles. Today, I am announcing my re-election campaign for the New York Senate from where I will continue to work to find new ways to bring jobs, affordable housing and immigration reform to our community, so that middle and working class families can thrive here."
U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel has won the closely contested Democratic primary in New York's 13th Congressional District, the Associated Press reported.
Rangel defeated state Sen. Adriano Espaillat for a 23rd term. Espaillat was bidding to become the first Dominican-American in Congress.
They also squared off in 2012, a primary Rangel narrowly won.
The 84-year-old Rangel was once arguably the most influential black elected official in the U.S. He said this is his final race. He is known as the Lion of Harlem and has been a liberal voice for a district that was once heavily black but is now majority Hispanic.
The primary had been contentious, with accusations of racially charged language.
Rangel will advance to the general election in November. His district is heavily Democratic.
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On Tuesday night, Rangel, the face of Harlem politics for generations, showed no such reluctance to bring the drama-filled campaign to a close.
"This was your victory," Rangel told the crowd. "This is your congressman. And you can rest assured all I will be doing is thinking about you and bringing resources back home."
At one moment during his rambling address, the stage buckled under the weight of the congressman and more than a dozen elected officials who wanted to stand near the candidate. After determining that no one was hurt, Rangel resumed talking. And talking.
Acknowledging that he was "killing time" as the votes were being counted, Rangel held court, continually introducing new speakers and asking his advisers and members of the press for updates on the latest totals.
Finally, after a local TV station called the race, balloons dropped from the ceiling. Rangel raised his arms aloft and smiled.
But upon leaving the stage, Rangel was slightly more cautious in addressing reporters, saying he was "confident" that his margin of victory would hold but resisting a full-throated reiteration of his victory cry.
Espaillat refused to concede. He told supporters that the "race was too close to call" and his campaign said that several thousand absentee and provisional ballots remained uncounted.
The Board of Elections still hasn't officially named Rangel the winner, but there are only a few uncounted votes. To win, Espaillat would have to win about 1,800 - nearly all of them. Theat would be nearly double the margin by which Rangel won in 2012.
Even as Espaillat's stage was quickly dismantled Tuesday night and his party emptied out, the possibility of a legal challenge was raised, which could lead to a sequel to the 2012 primary between the two men. The result of that race, which Rangel won by barely 1,000 votes, took two weeks to finalize.
Although once arguably the most influential black elected official in the U.S., Rangel was weakened after 2010 ethics violations that forced him to give up the chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, and his heavily Democratic district was then redrawn to include parts of the Bronx, which along with the accelerating gentrification of Harlem transformed a heavily black district into one that was majority Hispanic.
In other New York elections:
- Lee Zeldin defeated George Demos for the Republican nomination in the 1st District, which covers Long Island's Suffolk County.
- There were two primaries in the 4th District, covering parts of Nassau County, where Democratic Rep. Carolyn McCarthy is retiring. In the Democratic primary, District Attorney Kathleen Rice defeated county legislator Kevan Abrahams, while in the Republican primary, former county legislator Bruce Blakeman defeated attorney Frank Scaturro.
- In upstate New York, Elise Stefanik, a former George W. Bush staffer, defeated businessman Matthew Doheny in the Republican primary for a seat that opened up when Democratic Rep. Bill Owens opted not to run.
- Republican U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna defeated tea party-backed Claudia Tenney, a member of the state Assembly, in western New York's 22nd District.