Adriano Espaillat, Despite Deficit, Will Not Concede to Charlie Rangel

State Senator Adriano Espaillat. (Photo: Ross Barkan)

State Senator Adriano Espaillat. (Photo: Ross Barkan)

State Senator Adriano Espaillat briefly addressed supporters and the media tonight, vowing to press on with his campaign despite early returns showing that he may have come up short against Congressman Charlie Rangel.

Standing atop his sound truck in the Inwood section of Manhattan, Mr. Espaillat said he would wait for the full returns of strongholds like Marble Hill and Inwood before making a decision about his campaign.

“We have reviewed the results as they have continued to come in and we feel this race is too close to call,” Mr. Espaillat said to cheers. “We think it is prudent to wait for the final results before we make any announcement.”

Mr. Espaillat, speaking in English and Spanish, called the race “historic.” He then sped off with his aides into a car–his campaign said he would not be returning.

Mr. Rangel currently leads Mr. Espaillat by about 4 percent with almost 100 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press. Espaillat surrogates said there were absentee ballots that still needed to be counted, though it appears unlikely that the ballots could lift Mr. Espaillat past Mr. Rangel, a Harlem lawmaker for more than 40 years.

The mood at Mr. Espaillat’s party, held at the swanky 809 Bar and Grill, was subdued. It’s not immediately clear that Mr. Espaillat actually has any path to victory left. Two years ago, Mr. Espaillat came within 1,100 votes of unseating Mr. Rangel–this time around, he trailed by almost 2,000.

“We worked very, very hard to try to get him to win but something happened that did not click,” said Emma Brea, an aide to uptown Assemblywoman Gariela Rosa, an Espaillat ally. “He’s behind like 5 points and I know by experience the affidavit ballot has never made any difference in any candidate in any election in New York City.”

Miguel Estrella, a Washington Heights journalist and Espaillat fan, said the race did not go at all the way he expected.

“I feel kind of disappointed because I was very hopeful we could win this election tonight. However, I still have a hope that after every vote has been counted, we have a chance to win,” he said.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., a major Espaillat supporter who backed Mr. Rangel two years ago, was pinning his hopes on the remaining ballots to buoy Mr. Espaillat.

“From what I understand, there’s something like 4,000 paper ballots out there … I’m optimistic,” Mr. Diaz said.