- The Washington Times - Monday, July 2, 2012

Rep. Charles B. Rangel’s unofficial primary victory last week is in jeopardy, as a revised vote tally shows the New York City Democratic stalwart ahead by only about 800 votes with more than twice as many ballots yet to be counted.

Mr. Rangel declared himself the winner after securing more than a 5 percent advantage over state Sen. Adriano Espaillat hours after the polls closed in the June 26 race for the Democratic nomination for New York’s new 13th congressional district, reconfigured because of redistricting.

But after dozens of polling stations in the Harlem-Bronx district were slow to report results, the New York City Board of Elections updated its vote tally over the weekend to show the incumbent’s lead had shrunk to about 2 percent, with Mr. Rangel receiving 44 percent compared with Mr. Espaillat’s 42 percent.

And with about 2,150 absentee ballots and affidavit ballots — cast by people whose names didn’t show up on the voter registrar — uncounted, a final tally isn’t expected until at least Thursday, the elections office says.

Mr. Rangel, who was first elected to the House in 1970 and was founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, rarely attracts serious intraparty challengers. But dogged by ethic problems and running in a new district where Hispanics outnumber blacks — his longtime electoral base — the congressman this year faced the toughest re-election of his career.

New York state Sen. Adriano Espaillat (AP photo)
New York state Sen. Adriano Espaillat (AP photo) more >

The Dominican-born Mr. Espaillat, 57, courted the district’s large Hispanic voting base while portraying Mr. Rangel, 82, as out of touch with a changing electorate. The state senator’s campaign was aided by an endorsement by Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez.

The Espaillat campaign Friday filed a petition in the New York Supreme Court asking it to oversee the canvassing process. The campaign withdrew the lawsuit Monday because of a technicality and said a new action will be filed Tuesday.

“We continue to be concerned about the way this election has been conducted,” Espaillat spokesman Ibrahim Khan said Monday.

The Dominican American National Roundtable advocacy group has called on the Justice Department to investigate “disturbing allegations of voter suppression and lack of transparency” in the election.

The New York elections board, in a statement after the Espaillat campaign withdrew its petition, said the board has acted in accordance with the law and “its duly adopted procedures” throughout the election process.

“We believe that the withdrawal of this proceeding today indicates the baseless nature of the unsupported allegations contained in the papers that were filed in court,” the board said.

A Rangel campaign spokesman Monday declined to comment on the election proceedings.

A bipartisan House ethics panel in late 2010 found Mr. Rangel guilty of 11 of 13 ethics-violation charges, including using congressional staff and stationery to solicit donations. He was censured by the House — the most serious congressional penalty short of expulsion.

The scandal forced him to step down as chairman of the powerful tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. He condemned the investigative subcommittee’s ruling.