Updated 7/10/12 at 10:53 AM.
NEW YORK — Despite trailing his rival by perhaps less than 1000 votes, NY State Senator Adriano Espaillat conceded today in his Democratic primary race against veteran Congressman Charles Rangel, nearly two weeks after the June 26 primary election. Espaillat’s announcement puts an end to an extremely close race, capped by an extended vote count that led some to raise questions about voter suppression and preliminary count irregularities.
In a statement, Espaillat, who had hoped to become the first Dominican-born member of Congress, announced that he had accepted the final tally of the Board of Elections, reported by the New York Daily News on Saturday. According to that story, Rangel’s margin of victory increased to 990. (The Board of Elections refused to provide Fi2W with any numbers, stating that the tally would not be available until the vote was certified.)
Espaillat declared this afternoon that his campaign is over.
“After a historic campaign where we engaged voters in Manhattan and the Bronx about the bold, new ideas needed to move our city and our country forward, it is clear that we have fallen just a little bit short,” he said. “We are proud of the tremendous show of support we received at the polls and even prouder of the fact that our campaign fought for every single vote to be counted.”
The Espaillat campaign was scheduled to appear before a State Supreme Court judge on Wednesday, but according to WNYC that hearing has now been canceled.
As we reported earlier, the Dominican American National Roundtable, an advocacy organization for Dominican-Americans, had expressed concerns about voter suppression in New York’s 13th Congressional District. Maria Teresa Montilla, the group’s president, declined to comment directly on the race’s final result. However, she said she was glad her organization raised the questions it did.
“Our concern [was] that every voter was assured that their vote counted,” she told Fi2W. “As much as we can have that looked into, having it examined, then we’re satisfied.”
Montilla said she hoped that Domincan-Americans would not feel discouraged from voting in the future.
“I can’t empahasize enough that anything that discourages these traditionally disenfranchised groups of voters is of great concern,” she said.
In addressing his opponent, Senator Espaillat was conciliatory.
“We congratulate Representative Rangel,” he said, “and thank our many supporters for their strong and ongoing support.”
7/10/12 update: Congressman Rangel released the following statement regarding the race:
“I congratulate State Senator Adriano Espaillat for running an ambitious campaign. Although there was no evidence found, I look forward to working with him to uncovering any possibility of voter suppression or fraud, as well as to foster reconciliation and unity across the communities that became divided during the campaign.”