NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, the face of Harlem politics for generations, held off a strong Democratic primary challenge and moved one step closer to what he said will be his 23rd and final term in the House.
Rangel, 84, defeated state Sen. Adriano Espaillat in what was a bruising fight that shed light on the changing face of a district that was once one of the nation’s black political power bases.
With 100 percent of the vote counted in unofficial results, Rangel led Espaillat 47.4 percent to 43.6 percent, a difference of fewer than 2,000 votes. About 47,000 votes were counted Tuesday. The Associated Press called Rangel the winner based on fresh information Wednesday afternoon from the city Board of Elections on the numbers of absentee and provisional ballots cast that were not included in the election night tally. The number of absentee and provisional ballots were not sufficient for Espaillat to catch Rangel.
“Fired up and ready to go!” the congressman declared in a statement thanking voters for “standing with me to the very end and giving this veteran his one last fight.”
“I’ve got a lot of fight in me and will not let them down,” said Rangel. He added that he hoped to begin healing the “division that was created during the course of the campaign.”
Rangel’s campaign had announced earlier Wednesday that he planned to attend a “unity rally” Saturday at the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network headquarters in Harlem.
“Now that the campaign is over and Congressman Rangel has won, we look forward to coming together and addressing the issues facing the 13th Congressional District,” senior campaign adviser Charlie King said in a statement announcing the appearance.
Espaillat’s campaign declined to comment.