U.S. Representative Charles Rangel of New York held a 2 percentage point lead over his top challenger, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, after the Board of Elections finished counting all machine and valid absentee and affidavit ballots, said board spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez.
Rangel had 987 more votes than Espaillat out of 42,726 after officials finished counting about 2,000 paper absentee and affidavit ballots at about 7 p.m. yesterday, Vazquez said.
The unofficial tally gave Rangel 18,942 votes to Espaillat’s 17,955, with the remaining votes going to other candidates, she 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.
Vazquez described Rangel’s lead in an email as his “margin of victory.”
On Election Night on June 26, Rangel declared victory and Espaillat conceded defeat after results showed the incumbent 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 yet to be 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, has represented New York City’s Harlem neighborhood in the House for more than 41 years and once served as chairman of its tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.
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.
Espaillat, 57, seeks 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.”
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