Rangel Still Reigns In Harlem

by Christine Sisto

If New York’s 13th congressional district has taught us anything about elections, it’s this: Just because the demographics are in your favor doesn’t mean you can win the election.

After yesterday’s Democratic primary, Representative Charles Rangel will likely return to his seat in Congress next January for the 23rd time. Despite the overwhelming number of Spanish-speaking residents in the district, Rangel defeated his Dominican-born opponent, state senator Adriano Espaillat. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Rangel leads Espaillat by 1,828 votes, 47 percent to 44 percent.

Despite the wide margin, Espaillat has not conceded, claiming Tuesday night that the election “was too close to call.”

Not really. Over 700 absentee ballots must still be counted, and absentee and affidavit ballots can still be counted if the Board of Elections receives them by next Tuesday. But unless over 2,000 people voted absentee for Espaillat, a victory for the state senator is unlikely.

In a bizarre, longwinded 45-minute victory speech to his supporters last night, Rangel said that he made “so many promises to my wife and I’m going to have to start producing.”

This is likely to be Rangel’s last political victory, as he plans to retire after this term in office. Espaillat also nearly defeated Rangel in the 2012 Democratic primary, losing by only about 1,000 votes.

With the nomination, Rangel is all but guaranteed a general-election win in the heavily Democratic district.

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