State Senator Adriano Espaillat claimed victory over his opponent, State Assemblyman Keith Wright, in Harlem’s Democratic Primary on Tuesday, making this the first time in 70 years that Harlem will not have Black leadership in Washington, The New York Times reports.
Wright, who is backed by retiring Rep. Charlie Rangel, would not concede Tuesday, demanding that absentee and state ballots be recounted. “No candidate can declare victory tonight,” he said. “Not until every vote is counted.”
The State Assemblyman also called for an investigation into alleged voter suppression, according to the New York Post.
The Wall Street Journal writes that with 98 percent of precincts reporting, Espaillat led Wright 36.9 percent to 33.9 percent. The two were separated by about 1,270 votes in the nine-person race.
A win for Espaillat would set him up to become the first Dominican-American elected to Congress – if he wins the general election in November.
The New York Times writes:
A victory by Mr. Espaillat would realize a long-sought goal of the so-called Dominican diaspora, which began to take root here in large numbers after the United States invaded the Caribbean nation in 1965. Many landed in Washington Heights, where the streets became outposts of the towns left behind.
Tuesday’s results would also close a longstanding rivalry between Rangel and Espaillat, who ran against the iconic congressman in the 2012 and 2014 primaries.
Rangel, who served in Congress since 1971 by beating out incumbent Adam Clayton Powell Jr., the first African-American member of Congress, says he will continue to champion for Wright.
Espaillat’s victory would be highly disappointing to Rangel, who said in an interview with The New York Times before the election, “Can you tell the people in Boston that some day you won’t have an Irish congressman? I don’t want to talk about it and it can’t happen now, that’s for damn sure.”
At a victory party in Washington Heights, a primarily Dominican neighborhood, Espaillat said to a cheerful crowd:
“Voters from throughout the 13th Congressional District elected a country boy from Santiago de los Caballeros in the Dominican Republic to be the nominee of the Democratic Party. So from Harlem to East Harlem, from Washington Heights, from Inwood to the Northwest Bronx, I want to thank all the voters that cast their votes in support of this historic candidacy.”