“I’m here to acknowledge that we came short two percent, I want to congratulate Congressman Charles B. Rangel for his victory and tell him that I look forward to working with him as we move forward,” State Senator Adriano Espaillat announced at a sunny press conference in Inwood this afternoon.
“Back in 1996 when I first got into politics, I defeated a 16-year incumbent and I ran against the political establishment,” he continued. “I did so again this year, everyone from Nancy Pelosi on down supported the incumbent, so I’m very proud to have run a very strong race.”
The concession marks the end of a contentious and drama-filled sequence of events after Election Day in Congressman Rangel’s reelection bid. Although Mr. Espaillat initially conceded when the Board of Elections reported a massive lead for Mr. Rangel, he later reengaged the race when additional results showed him only 800 or so votes behind.
Additionally, Mr. Espaillat made clear that he was dropping his lawsuit challenging the results, although he noted groups like Latino Justice may be pursuing incidents of voter suppression on their own. At today’s press conference, he said he simply did not have the funds to continue a legal effort that wouldn’t change who the ultimate victor would be.
“My attorneys have advised me that even though there are close to 2,000 invalid affidavit ballots, the math just doesn’t work, that in fact it is virtually impossible for the results to be different,” he explained.
The concession hardly comes as a surprise, as multiple outlets had already reported that it would occur. But Mr. Espaillat did contradict some of those reports by declaring that he had not yet decided if he would seek reelection to the State Senate this year. During his congressional campaign he repeatedly vowed he was not seeking reelection “at this time,” and Mr. Espaillat claimed to have only started looking at such a move after the campaign was over. The filing deadline is in a few days, so he’ll need to decide his future plans soon, however.
“I have authorized some of the district leaders in the district to begin circulating petitions after the 26th, after Election Day,” he said. “I promise you that in 48 hours, I will have that answer.”
Outside of his level of support, Mr. Espaillat said his election could also serve as a jumping off point to reform the Board of Elections, an agency widely concerned to be an ineffective, patronage-based system. For example, just today, two weeks after Election Day, they found new votes from Mr. Espaillat’s election.
“I failed to mention that today the Board of Elections found another 28 votes that we had not accounted for,” the state senator chimed in as he was taking questions after his speech. “I think that this election should be an example for why there should be a vigorous debate about reforming the electoral process in New York State, primarily the Board of Elections.”