In the June 26 primary for the 13th Congressional District, the Associated Press declared Rangel the winner when he was ahead by about 20 percentage points. But the 41-year House veteran's lead kept shrinking: he finished the night with just a 5.4 percentage point lead and when every district was counted by July 1, his lead was down to a mere 802 votes.
It took 10 days to get to the final count, which left Rangel with 18,940 votes, 990 more than Espaillat's 17,950.
As it emerged that the Board of Elections had still not counted over 2,000 absentee and affidavit ballots by the Friday after the primary, Espaillat appealed to the state supreme court in Manhattan, asking a judge to address concerns that votes were improperly tallied.
He withdrew that appeal and refiled in the Bronx to address more relevant sections of the law. Meanwhile, the Board of Elections began to hand-count the remaining ballots on July 5.
The district is one of the most Democratic in the nation, encompassing Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights, Inwood, and—a new addition this year—the northwest Bronx. The redistricting process just cut out Columbia's Morningside campus—which will now be represented by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, CC '69—though it includes the medical and Manhattanville campuses, drawing the southern border at West 123rd Street.
Pundits had expected Espaillat to turn his attention to his re-election to the state senate, in which he represents Washington Heights and Inwood. In his concession speech Monday, he said he would would make up his mind by Wednesday. In that race, he faces Assembly member Guillermo Linares, a Rangel ally who was the first Dominican-American elected to office in New York. (Espaillat was the first Dominican-American elected to the state legislature.)
Democratic district leader Mark Levine, an Espaillat ally, has been considering a run for the state senate, but said he would reserve making an announcement until Espaillat had made up his mind, according to the New York Times.
This primary, which all but guarantees Rangel's election to a 22nd term in November—he is running unopposed—was the toughest of the 82-year-old congressman's long career. Besides Espaillat, three others challenged Rangel. Two of them—former Clinton adviser Clyde Williams and former Democratic district leader Joyce Johnson—received more votes than the difference between Rangel and Espaillat, with 4,227 and 1,009, respectively.
Correction: An earlier version of this article reported that Adriano Espaillat was considering running for U.S. senate. He is in fact considering running for re-election to the state senate.