Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) thus far appears to have maintained his grip on New York’s 13th Congressional District, leading his closest primary challenger by approximately 1,800 votes and earning about 47 percent of the vote with 100 percent of precincts reporting, according to New York Times election data.
The veteran politician may indeed once again overcome the same odds he faced in 2012: a redrawn district, which weakened his base of black voters; ailing health; his embarrassing ethics violation and subsequent censure; and the lack of support from top Democrats such as President Barack Obama and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
However, it’s not over till the fat lady sings, and Rangel’s hopeful challenger, New York state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who is vying to become the first Dominican American in Congress, has refused to concede, with tallies thus far giving him approximately 44 percent of the vote. As of early Wednesday morning, the Associated Press had yet to call the race, considering the yet-to-be-counted absentee and provisional ballots as making the margin too narrow.
Rangel, who is hoping to secure his 23rd term in Congress, is one of the eldest House members at age 84. In a bitter rematch, Espaillat had campaigned, in part, on the congressman’s extensive career, declaring that he had been in the seat for “far too long.”
According to AP, the older politician said that his younger challenger wanted to be the “Jackie Robinson of the Dominicans in Congress” and slammed the state senator, saying that he should tell voters “just what the heck has he done besides saying he’s a Dominican?”
Even though his opponent has yet to concede, Rangel has all but declared victory, dropping balloons at a victory party late Tuesday night, NBC News reported. He also thanked those who supported him, saying, “I can’t thank you enough. It was a great victory,” according to CBS New York.
However, Espaillat and his team are standing firm, pointing toward the last election in 2012, where he lost to Rangel by only about 1,100 votes, as a sign that it may yet be too early to admit defeat.
“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 prepared statement, according to CBS.
Rangel, for his part, has said that this will be his last run and the end of a four-decade-long era in which he has held the seat, first secured in 1970 after he ousted Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Powell, an iconic figure, was the first black person to be elected to Congress from New York.