U.S. Representative Charles Rangel, who has represented New York City’s Harlem neighborhood for more than 41 years, held a 2 percentage-point lead over his top challenger after the Board of Elections finished counting machine and valid absentee and affidavit ballots.
Rangel had 18,942 votes to state Senator Adriano Espaillat’s 17,955, with the rest going to other candidates, said Valerie Vazquez, a spokeswoman for the elections board. She described Rangel’s lead in an e-mail as his “margin of victory.”
Espaillat will decide today whether to concede and call off a July 11 court hearing to challenge the results, Ibrahim Khan, a campaign spokesman, said in an interview.
The latest unofficial tally, finished July 7 at about 7 p.m., showed Rangel had 987 more votes than Espaillat out of 42,726 cast, after officials counted about 2,000 paper absentee and affidavit ballots, Vazquez said.
Democrats make up almost 97 percent of the district in northern Manhattan and the Bronx, so winning the primary almost ensures victory in the November general election.
Espaillat conceded defeat 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. Carter scheduled a hearing for July 11.
Rangel, 82, once served as chairman of its 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, 57, 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.”