Rep. Charlie Rangel declared victory over his main challenger state Sen. Adriano Espaillat with an estimated 1,828 vote lead by early Wednesday morning. Credit: Getty Images
The Lion of Lenox appears to have lived to roar another day.
Rep. Charlie Rangel declared victory over his main challenger state Sen. Adriano Espaillat with an estimated 1,828 vote lead in the primary for the 13th Congressional district by early Wednesday morning.
"This was your victory — this is your congressman," Rangel told his crowd of supporters at his victory party. "And you can rest assured that what I'll do is be thinking about you and bringing those resources home."
Two other candidates fell by the wayside as the race came down to Espaillat and Rangel again. Harlem pastor Michael Walrond earned 3,768 votes while Bronx activist Yolanda Garcia took 505.
However, Espaillat ended the evening without conceding to the 22-term incumbent.
"We have reviewed the results as they have continued to come in and we feel this race is too close to call," Espaillat said from on top of his campaign truck. "We think it is prudent to wait for the final results before we make any announcement."
After his attempt to unseat Rangel, the senator contested the 2012 race's early results due to irregualrties at polls where results were counted by hand. Espaillat then briefly fought for a vote recount but eventually conceded when the Board of Elections' final count showed Rangel ahead by 1,032-vote.
Like in 2012, Tuesday's election has also framed as one representing the racial and ethnic shifts in the district, which includes Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood and parts of the South Bronx.
A recent Siena poll showed voters were divided between racial lines. Espaillat, who was raised in the Dominican Republic, had a 24-point advantage with Latinos. Rangel held a 70-point advantage among black voters.
Unlike 2012, however, Rangel faced Espaillat with dwindling support from city's political establishment.
Heavy hitters including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former President Bill Clinton endorsed the 22-term veteran, as did Public Advocate Letitia James and healthcare union SEIU 1199.
However, Espaillat had his own cadre of support, including labor groups the Working Families Party and the United Federation of Teachers, as well as leaders such as New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and a slew of peers from Albany.
Despite this year's fight, Rangel described the race to reporters earlier in the day as "civil" before promising the night's results as his closing act.
"I told my wife of over 50 years that'll be the last time I will be voting for myself," he said.