Rep. Charles Rangel, the face of Harlem politics for generations, has held off a strong Democratic primary challenge and moved one step closer to what he says will be his 23rd and final term in the House. Rangel, 84, defeated state Sen. Adriano Espaillat in a bruising fight that shed light on the changing face of a district that was once one of the nation's black political power bases. With 100% of the vote counted in unofficial results, Rangel led Espaillat 47.4% to 43.6%—a difference of fewer than 2,000 votes—and the AP has called Rangel the winner based on information yesterday from the city Board of Elections on ballots cast that were not included in the election night tally.
"Fired up and ready to go!" the congressman declared in a statement thanking voters for "standing with me to the very end and giving this veteran his one last fight." He added that he hoped to begin healing the "division that was created during the course of the campaign." But Espaillat, who lost to Rangel in 2012 by about 1,000 votes in results that took two weeks to finalize, has not conceded, urging that every vote be counted. The official count won't start until Wednesday, when the absentee and provisional ballots are opened, and Espaillat's team has said it could mount a legal challenge.