The bitter primary between 22-term incumbent Charlie Rangel and State Sen. Adriano Espaillat in New York's 13 th Congressional District is finally over with Rangel being called the winner this afternoon after hours of too-close-to-call status.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting and over 1,800 votes separating the two opponents, The Associated Press called the race when the New York City Board of Elections released hard numbers of absentee and provisional ballots.
The tally has Rangel with 47.4 percent and Espaillat with 43.6 percent, but there are 2,200 provisional ballots, known as affidavit ballots in NYC, still to be counted. These have not been verified and there are 989 verified absentee ballots. Espaillat, 59, would have to get close to all of those ballots, not to mention the question of how many of the provisional ballots will be deemed ineligible.
Rangel appears to have survived the most serious challenge in his 43-year career.
As in other districts around the country, if a voter comes into a polling location and does not find his or her name in the registrar, he or she can cast a provisional ballot. It will not be counted until it can be certified that the voter is eligible, registered to vote, a valid resident of the district and a member of the correct party (in this case a Democrat). The district includes Upper Manhattan neighborhoods such as Harlem, as well as a piece of the Bronx.
So, What's Next?
Rangel, 84, already declared victory in his speech Tuesday night saying, "I can't thank you enough. It was a great victory, and he repeated his claim on the win to reporters today. But Espaillat has not conceded, telling reporters today, "Right now we want to see the full count of the votes." He still has not conceded, but it becomes less likely he will hold out now the AP has officially called the race.
But the Board of Elections will also do an official count of all votes cast Tuesday, calling it an "official re-canvass."
Rangel adviser and longtime New York City political consultant Hank Sheinkopf explained that there had been caution because when Rangel and Espaillat faced off two years ago for the first time there were many people who were ineligible attempting to cast ballots. In that race, Rangel beat Espaillat by only about 1,000 votes.
"There was a sense after the election that many people who were not registered in the district or were not eligible to vote attempted to vote," Sheinkopf explained before AP called this race for Range. "Like any emerging group, there was an excitement that one of their own could get to Congress."
But this year, he said, there was a "sustained effort" that only voters "registered to vote in that district" cast ballots.
ABC's Mark Crudele contributed to this report.