Longtime Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel’s top pick to be the successor to his New York House seat lost his primary in a tightly contested race against State Sen. Adriano Espailla Tuesday.
Rangel campaigned heavily for state assemblyman Keith Wright in the historically black district. The seat has recently become more competitive due to gentrification in the area and the congressional lines being redrawn in 2010, leading to an influx of hispanics.
Despite more than 98 percent of precincts having been reported, with Espailla leading by a sizable margin at 36.9 percent to Wright’s 33.9 percent, Wright refused to concede late Tuesday evening – apparently undeterred by his opponent’s victory speech.
“Historically, these races have gone down to the wire,” Wright told supporters according to The New York Daily News. “This race is no different. No candidate can declare victory tonight, not until every vote is counted.”
The former chairman of the powerful House Committee on Ways and Means, who served in the House for 46 years, handpicked Wright to take the reins after a health scare in 2012. New York Magazine reports Rangel went so far as to assist Wright in encouraging other primary opponents to drop out, and kept up with his daily schedule of campaign events in an attempt to secure his mentee’s success in the race.
Rangel himself nearly lost to Espaillat in 2014.
If Espaillat wins the election, which is likely in the traditionally far-left district, he will be the first Dominican immigrant in the House.
“The voters of the 13th Congressional District made history tonight here in New York City,” Espaillat said after the results were announced, according to the New York Daily News.
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