Bloomberg News

Rangel’s Top Challenger Espaillat Concedes Primary Race

July 09, 2012

U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel

U.S. Representative Charles Rangel greets supporters at his campaign headquarters after polls closed in New York on June 26. Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York state Senator Adriano Espaillat conceded his race against U.S. Representative Charles Rangel, who has represented New York City’s Harlem neighborhood for more than 41 years.

Espaillat, 57, told reporters today that he will drop a court challenge of the June 26 primary election results. A hearing had been scheduled for July 11.

“My lawyers have advised me there’s no mathematical possibility or at least an unlikely possibility that we could turn this around,” Espaillat said in front of his north Manhattan campaign headquarters. “It’s virtually impossible for the results to be different.”

Rangel held a 2 percentage-point lead over Espaillat, his closest challenger, after the Board of Elections finished counting machine-cast and valid absentee and affidavit ballots on July 7. Rangel had 18,942 votes to Espaillat’s 17,955, with the rest going to other candidates, said Valerie Vazquez, a spokeswoman for the elections board.

Democrats compose almost 97 percent of the district in northern Manhattan and the Bronx, so winning the primary almost ensures victory in the November general election.

Election Night

Espaillat first conceded on election night June 26, and Rangel declared victory after results showed Rangel ahead by 45.2 percent to 39.8 percent with 84 percent of polling places unofficially counted. The Associated Press, which reports the vote count, called the race for Rangel.

By June 30, with 40,810 votes counted on all machines, Rangel’s lead had narrowed to 44 percent to 42 percent, or 802 votes, with the absentee and affidavit ballots not yet counted. State law requires a full recount of machine and paper ballots when the first- and second-place vote totals differ by 0.5 percentage points or less.

State Supreme Court Judge John W. Carter of the Bronx told the Board of Elections last week that while it can certify a winner, it can’t report the election results to the state to make them official until approval by the court.

Rangel, 82, once served as chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

This was his first election since the House censured him in December 2010 for 11 ethics violations including failure to disclose and pay taxes on rental income from a house he owned in the Dominican Republic. Rangel campaigned in a court-redrawn district that removed areas of the Upper West Side and added a mostly-Latino section of the Bronx.

Espaillat had sought to become the first Dominican-born member of Congress. During the campaign, he said Rangel’s censure had reduced the congressman’s effectiveness and made him a “poster child for dysfunction in Washington.”

Espaillat said he would decide in the next two days whether to run for re-election to his state Senate seat representing northern Manhattan. Some supporters are already circulating petitions seeking to place his name on the ballot. He may face Democratic state Assemblyman Guillermo Linares, who has said he intends to campaign for Espaillat’s seat.

To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Goldman in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at

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