Sounding a resilient note, State Senator Adriano Espaillat announced this week that he would halt his legal challenge and end his race against incumbent Congressman Charles B. Rangel for the 13th Congressional district seat.
“I’m here to acknowledge that we came up short — 2 percent,” said Sen. Espaillat at a press conference convened on Mon., July 9th, outside his district office at 5030 Broadway. “It’s virtually impossible for the results to be different.”
Still, he said that the race had proven a positive experience.
“I come out of this strengthened,” he said.
Sen. Espaillat’s announcement signified the end of what had proven a protracted campaign that, despite a declaration of victory by the Rangel campaign and a concession speech from his challenger, did not conclude on Tues., June 26th after the primary election.
Instead, the campaign remained in dispute for nearly two weeks after.
The 1,900 margin of votes separating Rep. Rangel, the 42-term incumbent from Sen. Espaillat, his strongest challenger to date, shrunk dramatically to 828 once electoral districts that had not been included in the original tally were counted.
In the days after the primary election, Sen. Espaillat mounted a legal challenge, going to court to block the results and alleging that the Board of Elections had mishandled the election – all in the midst of reports of voter suppression.
LatinoJustice PRLDF and the Dominican American National Roundtable have said they will continue to investigate accounts of Spanish-speaking voters being turned away at the polls and other reported instances in which voters experienced trouble casting their ballots.
Sen. Espaillat made reference to the many difficulties faced on Monday afternoon.
“This proved to be a very challenging race,” said Sen. Espaillat. “Everybody from Nancy Pelosi down supported the incumbent, so I am very proud to have run a strong race.”
And despite his cessation of legal action, he maintained that he did not believe the Board of Elections had handled the race properly.
“Is the Board of Elections a reliable entity?” he said. “I feel not.”
Rep. Rangel, emerging from an ethics scandal and hobbled by health issues, had faced his most difficult campaign to date in this recent 5-way primary.
In a statement issued late on Monday, Rep. Rangel responded, “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.”
Rep. Rangel said he would now look to the work ahead, including the presidential election.
“I will continue,” he wrote, “to focus on addressing some of the most serious challenges we are facing as a City, State and country, and making sure that President Barack Obama is re-elected."
For his part, Sen. Espaillat said that he also was focused on the future – one he said was not yet determined.
“While I gave permission to district leaders to start circulating petitions after June 26th, I haven’t yet decided if I will accept the petitions,” said Sen. Espaillat in regards to whether he’d now turn to running for whether re-election for his Senate seat.
The deadline is Thurs., July 12th for candidates for the Legislature to submit petitions to run in the September primary.
Sen. Espaillat is likely to face off against New York State Assemblymember Guillermo Linares, who had earlier declared his candidacy for the Senate and who supported Rep. Rangel.
When asked on Monday afternoon if he had spoken to Assemblymember Linares, Sen. Espaillat said, “I haven’t, but I will soon.”