With Rangel at his side, Wright concedes primary to Espaillat

With Rangel at his side, Wright concedes primary to Espaillat

With Rangel at his side, Wright concedes primary to Espaillat
June 30, 2016

After meeting at Sylvia’s Soul Food restaurant Thursday, Assemblyman Keith Wright formally conceded in the 13th Congressional District primary to state Sen. Adriano Espaillat and said supporters of both candidates now needed to unite.

“We've left it all on the battlefield, and certainly now it's time to come together," Wright said.

After preliminary results showed him down by about 1,200 votes Tuesday, Wright said no candidate could declare victory and demanded that every vote be counted and every election irregularity investigated.

On Wednesday, Wright campaign consultant Charlie King said all 3,100 outstanding absentee and affidavit ballots must be counted - and that it was still possible for Wright to win. Nonetheless retiring Rep. Charles Rangel, an ally of the assemblyman’s, said he was unsure Wright could surmount Espaillat’s lead while also raising concerns about the Board of Elections. Meanwhile, the Rev. Al Sharpton said his National Action Network civil rights group said it received no complaints about alleged voter suppression, which undermined part of Wright’s argument for contesting the results.

Thursday’s concessions ends a campaign that was crowded with candidates and grew extremely divisive as election day neared.  At times the race highlighted tensions between African-American, Dominican and other communities in the district, which runs from Harlem up through Washington Heights and Inwood and into the northwest Bronx. The seat helped propel New York’s first African-American congressman to Washington D.C. in 40’s and continued to serve as a hub of black power under Rep. Charles Rangel.

With Rangel retiring, nine candidates vied to succeed him in a district that has become more diverse, affluent and predominately Latino. In 2012 and 2014, Espaillat unsuccessfully sought to oust Rangel and repeatedly described his campaign as one that could create the first Dominican-American congressman. Espaillat now appears poised to achieve this pioneering ambition.

“This is a special moment to coalesce and bring together all the good will that we have to make sure our neighborhoods are lifted," Espaillat said.  

After endorsing Wright and saying he could not imagine someone from outside Harlem holding his seat, Rangel appeared ready to pass the mantel to an Inwood resident. Rangel joined several other officials from the district in congratulating Espaillat.

"I don't know how the Italians felt when the Puerto Ricans came into East Harlem, or how the Irish and the German Jews felt when the Dominicans went into Washington Heights, or how the Jewish community felt when the Puerto Ricans went into The Bronx, or how the whites in Harlem felt when we came from Hell's Kitchen and moved up in Harlem. But I do know one thing: that's what America is all about, that's what change is all about," Rangel said.

The Congressman went on to say Democrats would hold a reception for Espaillat in Washington, D.C. Espaillat will face challengers on the ballot in November, but is likely to win by a landslide in the heavily Democratic district.

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