The legal team of New York State Sen. Adriano Espaillat may seek a completely new vote in a Congressional primary race following the apparent victory of Rep. Charles Rangel. On Monday, a judge gave Espaillat’s lawyers permission to withdraw their initial petition, giving them time to adjust their claims and refile. A spokesman for the team, Ibrahim Khan, announced that they would submit a broader petition later in the week.
Espaillat had previously conceded the race on election night last week, when Rangel was announced as the primary’s winner. However, questions involving the vote counting process have some of the city’s political leaders questioning whether the concession and Rangel’s victory may have been premature.
“Although a winner was declared at 7 p.m. that night, there were as many as 70 election districts that showed as having zero votes cast,” Khan announced after the decision. “The most important thing is that we be able to count every single vote and we do so transparently.”
New York City’s Board of Elections released a tally over the weekend showing Rangel with a lead of over 800 votes, with some 2,000 absentee and other ballots left to be counted. The rest of the votes are to be counted on Thursday, and if the final margin of victory is less than half of 1 percent of all votes cast, a full manual recount may be necessary.
Rangel has served New York’s 13th district in Congress since 1970, but in recent years his seat has seemed less and less secure. Though Rangel managed to keep his position after an ethics scandal in 2010, the redistricting of the 13th Congressional District created a new Hispanic majority, making Espaillat, a native of the Dominican Republic, the apparent favorite.
Moises Perez, who serves as Rangel’s campaign manager, told reporters that he is awaiting the outcome of both the final count and the petition. “I think generally what they’re asking for is clarity. And that’s exactly what we want,” he said.