Updated, June 26, 10:20 p.m.
Even as Rep. Charles Rangel declared victory in the Democratic primary for the 13th Congressional District on Tuesday night, second-time rival Sen. Adriano Espaillat maintained that all votes had to be counted before calling the election.
By Thursday, however, Espaillat had called Rangel to concede and announced that he would be running for reelection in the New York State Senate.
“Even though I will not be representing the 13th District in Congress, I will continue to fight for Opportunity for All,” Espaillat said in a statement released Thursday afternoon. “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.”
With 100 percent of the district’s precinct reporting as of early Wednesday morning, Rangel received 47.4 percent of the vote, a 3.8 percent and 1,800-vote lead over Espaillat. The 22-term, 84-year-old Congressman's victory in the primary means he will almost certainly go on to win the general election on Nov. 4.
“This was your victory, this is your congressman, and you can rest assured that all I will be doing is singing about you and bringing those resources home,” Rangel said to supporters at his Tuesday night election party.
At the time, Espaillat, who came within two percent and 1,100 votes of defeating Rangel in 2012, refused to concede defeat—according to the New York Times, 2,834 absentee ballots still have to be counted by the New York City Board of Elections, which could determine the final victor.
“As we learned in 2012, every single vote needs to be counted in this race. Given the thousands of votes outstanding, the people of Upper Manhattan and The Bronx deserve a full accounting of every vote to achieve a complete and accurate tally in this race,” Espaillat said in a statement early Wednesday morning. In 2012, Espaillat did not concede defeat until nearly two weeks after the election.
The other two challengers, Rev. Michael Walrond and Yolanda Garcia, received 7.9 and 1.1 percent of the vote, respectively.
The primary elections marked the end of a closely watched and hotly contested race between the 84-year-old, 44-term incumbent Rangel and Espaillat, whose Latino background analysts have said could prove an advantage in the majority-Hispanic district.
A map produced by NY1 showed a deeply divided district—while Rangel received the majority of the vote in Central and East Harlem, precincts in Washington Heights and the Bronx strongly favored Espaillat. Voters in northern Morningside Heights and Manhattanville showed a slight preference for Rangel.
Amid red, blue, and white balloons, and a rap song dedicated to Rangel, several speakers at Tuesday night’s party—including 1199SEIU President George Gresham—spoke in Spanish in support of Rangel’s campaign.
Even Rangel himself appeared to recognize the increasing diversity in the district. After thanking supporters from Washington Heights, he said that when he was first elected, “I had no idea my district would be extended up there.”
Currently the third-longest serving member of the House of Representatives, Rangel has said that his 23rd term would be his last, saying he wanted to see President Barack Obama, CC ’83, through the end of his second term.
Yet even as Tuesday’s election marked the end of the congressional primary race, another Rangel ally took the opportunity to start a new campaign. Robert Jackson, the former District 9 city council member, said that he looked forward to starting his campaign for State Senator—which he officially announced at an event Thursday.
“At the end of it all, I’m going to say, ‘I told you so,’ and then start my campaign for state senate,” Jackson said on Tuesday. “Overall, Charlie’s going to win this, and if Adriano should backtrack and run for reelection [for state senator], I’m going to beat him.”
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