NEW YORK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York Rep. Charles Rangel’s margin of victory in Tuesday’s Democratic primary has narrowed to less than 3 percentage points, but his campaign expressed confidence that he would still win.

According to unofficial results compiled by The Associated Press, by midday Wednesday, with 93 percent of precincts in the 13th Congressional District reporting, Rangel had 43.98 percent, or 16,898 votes, compared to state Sen. Adriano Espaillat‘s 41.18 percent, or 15,823 votes, a difference of 2.8 percentage points.

Early Wednesday morning, Rangel’s lead was at 5 percentage points

Rangel campaign consultant Bill Lynch said he was confident the result would hold.

“He’ll still be victorious when this is over,” Lynch said.

Lynch was referring to the process by which the New York City Board of Elections officially certifies results. That process involves tallying any absentee ballots that have come in, along with the counts from the vote scanners.

City Board of Elections spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez said absentee ballots would start being opened July 5.

In a statement released Wednesday, Espaillat said the narrowing margin showed his campaign resonated with voters in the district.

His spokesman, Ibrahim Khan, would not comment on whether the candidate would seek a recount or otherwise challenge the results.

The board’s procedures call for a manual recount of all paper ballots when the vote difference is less than one-half of 1 percent of all votes cast.

County boards of elections can start recounting the machine totals and counting absentee and affidavit ballots immediately but must wait seven days, when all the absentees must be in, before finishing the count. The county certifies its results nine days after the election and sends the results to the state. The nine-day window closes on July 4, meaning the results will probably be due to the state the next day, said John Conklin, spokesman for the state board of elections.

The state will likely certify the results the following week.

Khan said there are about 1,000 affidavit ballots that still need to be counted, too. Those are from voters who showed up at the polls, but whose right to vote at a certain polling station may have been questioned.

The 2012 Democratic primary for the House of Representatives had been billed as a tough fight for Rangel, thanks to demographic changes and the shadows of an ethics scandal over taxes.

This year, the boundaries of the congressional district covering Harlem were redrawn as part of the once-a-decade redistricting process, with some of Manhattan being taken out of the district and parts of the Bronx added in.

That changed the district’s ethnic and racial composition: While the number of blacks stayed roughly the same, there are fewer whites and more Hispanics. Hispanics now make up more than half of the residents and almost half of the eligible voters.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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