At Congressman Charlie Rangel’s election night party outside Sylvia’s Restaurant on Malcolm X Boulevard June 26, former New York Governor David Paterson served as emcee entertaining the crowd with political patter and jokes as the results rolled in. Standing on stage with Mr. Rangel’s other longtime Harlem allies, Assemblyman Keith Wright, co-chair of the New York Democratic Party, and Assemblyman Carl Heastie, leader of the Bronx Democratic Party, Mr. Paterson declared Mr. Rangel victorious in his race against State Senator Adriano Espaillat.
“The firm of Heastie, Paterson & Wright have projected Charles Rangel the winner in the 13th Congressional District primary,” Mr. Paterson proclaimed to loud cheers and applause.
Mr. Paterson’s remarks were seemingly made in jest, however ten days after the election, there are some who fear Mr. Rangel’s cronies did hand him a victory after the initial Board of Elections result was found to have left votes uncounted in over thirty precincts and Mr. Espaillat’s campaign has gone to court with allegations of voter suppression and other “irregularities.” In this morning’s Daily News, Juan Gonzalez published a column detailing “troubling signs” that some Board of Elections officials engaged “in an all-out effort by the Democratic Party establishment to ensure a Rangel victory.”
In a conversation with The Politicker, Mr. Wright vehemently denied the various charges in Mr. Gonzalez’s story.
“It’s not true,” Mr. Wright said. “It’s absolutely untrue.”
Law & Order
This morning, New York State Supreme Court in the Bronx held a hearing in the matter of Adriano Espaillat vs. The Board of Elections in The City of New York addressing issues with the counting of ballots and alleged voter suppression in the increasingly close congressional race between veteran Congressman Charlie Rangel and State Senator Adriano Espaillat. Lawyers for both candidates and the Board of Elections appeared before Judge John Carter who, in a small victory for the Espaillat campaign, ruled all ballots cast in the June 26 election must be preserved and barred the BOE from transmitting results to the New York State Board of Elections once they are certified so that the Court may review any disputed paper ballots, alleged instances of voter supression and issues with the results from the electronic voting machines. Those issues will be examined in another hearing scheduled for July 11. Judge Carter’s ruling also left open the possibility that a “new primary election” will be held “upon a finding that there has been such fraud and irregularity as to render impossible a determination” of who won last week’s election.
The Neverending Story
Six days after election day and a premature declaration of victory for Rep. Charlie Rangel, there is still no official winner in the Upper Manhattan congressional race between Mr. Rangel and State Senator Adriano Espaillat. This afternoon, lawyers for both candidates are headed to New York State Supreme Court to address issues with the Board of Elections’ tabulation of the results in their congressional race and alleged instances of “irregular and possibly fraudulent returns from voting machines.” Mr. Rangel prepared for the legal battle by sending an email to his supporters saying he’s “completely baffled” by the situation and asking for donations to help him in the court fight.
“To my surprise, my opponent’s campaign pounced on me on Friday, saying that I had somehow stolen their votes! I’m completely baffled by the situation and the way my opponent has been reacting,” Mr. Rangel wrote. “I don’t know what will transpire in the coming days, but one thing is clear: I need your help to prepare myself for another battle — whether it’s a legal battle with the Board of Elections or with my opponent.”
The race between veteran Congressman Charlie Rangel and State Senator Adriano Espaillat for the 13th Congressional District in Upper Manhattan will come down to paper ballots. Mr. Rangel was initially declared the winner by the Associated Press based on initial results provided by the New York City Board of Elections, but it was subsequently revealed those results did not include votes from many of the precincts in the district. After a re-examination of the votes, the BOE released unofficial results tonight including votes cast in all of the district’s 506 precincts that show Mr. Rangel defeating Mr. Espaillat by a margin of just 802 votes. According to the BOE, Mr. Rangel received 18,075 votes, or 44.29 percent of the total cast, compared to Mr. Espaillat’s 17,273, 42.33 percent of the votes cast.
These unofficial results do not include paper ballots cast by absentee voters and affidavit ballots submitted by those whose name is not on the voter rolls when they arrive at the polling place. Those paper ballots, which include votes for both candidates, will be counted by the BOE next Thursday and will be the deciding factor in this tight race.
Supporters of State Senator Adriano Espaillat are calling for a federal monitor to step in and oversee the counting of votes in his congressional race against longtime Congressman Charlie Rangel after reports of uncounted votes emerged yesterday. Mr. Rangel was initially declared the victor by the Associated Press and in unofficial totals from the Board of Elections after the election on Tuesday, but the AP subsequently published a report claiming results from 33 of the 506 precincts in the Upper Manhattan district remained uncounted. Mr. Espaillat’s supporters announced their push for a federal monitor at a press conference in front of Mr. Rangel’s office in Harlem where some of the attendees also made allegations of voter fraud at the polls Tuesday.
“I’m here today to call for a federal monitor on the Board of Elections. It is unacceptable that 48 hours after the elections took place….we don’t have the outcome of this election,” said Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, a close ally of Mr. Espaillat’s. “We also have a lot of concerns that still the Board of Elections has not received [results from] a number of election districts. We don’t know where they are, they don’t know where they are.”
After 41 years in the House of Representatives, Congressman Charlie Rangel faced the fight of his political life last night and came away with a victory. Mr. Rangel’s 22nd term in Congress was threatened by the changing boundaries and demographics of his district, lingering fallout from a tax and fundraising scandal that saw him censured for ethics violations by his House colleagues in 2010 and health issues that sent the 82-year-old in and out of the hospital for two months earlier this year. In a victory speech made from a makeshift stage set up in front of Sylvia’s restaurant in the heart of his longtime base in Harlem, Mr. Rangel praised his supporters, political allies and family for sticking with him through the difficult campaign. He also had harsh words for the press and the rivals who attempted to end his political career.
President Barack Obama didn’t give Rep. Charlie Rangel an endorsement in today’s election, but that didn’t stop supporters of the longtime congressman’s re-election bid from peppering Harlem with flyers featuring a huge picture of the president embracing Mr. Rangel as voters headed to the polls. The flyer describes Mr. Rangel as “a key leader in passing Obama’s healthcare law.”
Charlie In Charge
Charlie Rangel went to vote at P.S. 175 in Harlem this morning and, in a brief press conference afterward, the longtime congressman was dismissive of his opponents, the media and the entire possibility he might lose. Today’s race is seen as potentially the toughest of the congressman’s over forty years in office thanks to the changing demographics of his district. However, Mr. Rangel first replied with a joke when a reporter asked what he’d do if he loses.
“Well, if I lose tonight, I will sleep just like a baby and cry myself to sleep,” he said with a smile.
After a few laughs, the Congressman followed up to say he doesn’t think about losing at all.
“No, no,” said Mr. Rangel. “If you have the spirit that’s necessary to overcome these political obstacles and if you’re fortunate enough to know that they’re not obstacles that you can’t overcome, than the whole attitude, ‘What do I do if I lose?’ never reaches that mental level. It really doesn’t. I would find some way to tell you if I thought it did.”
Jobs Jobs Jobs
Congressman Charlie Rangel made an election day appearance on Good Day New York this morning and he jokingly fretted about the job prospects of his main opponent today, State Senator Adriano Espaillat. Mr. Rangel discussed Mr. Espaillat’s employment situation when he was asked why he seems so confident in a race where Mr. Espaillat is seen as a formidable candidate due to the newly redrawn Upper Manhattan congressional district’s Latino majority. If elected, Mr. Espaillat would be the first congressman of Dominican descent.
“I’m not working any harder today than I’ve worked last month, last year or every year since I’ve been in the Congress. I service my district. I’m at places, I go to community events ive worked with the City Council….This isn’t a love affair. I produce and that’s what people want from their public officials,” said Mr. Rangel, explaining the source of his confidence.
“Besides, I don’t even know the people running against me–except one of them,” Mr. Rangel said of Mr. Espaillat. “He’s a very, very ambitious person and, since he’s said that he’s not running for any other office, if he loses, I hope I’ll be able to find him some employment somewhere.”
Despite strong fundraising numbers, a well-organized campaign and his experience working in national politics, former DNC political director Clyde Williams is generally seen by insiders as a likely third place finisher behind State Senator Adriano Espaillat and Rep. Charlie Rangel in the race for Upper Manhattan’s newly redrawn 13th congressional district. However, Mr. Williams told The Politicker he’s confident about his chances when we caught up with him last night as he met with voters in rapper Doug E. Fresh’s Harlem restaurant, Doug E.’s Chicken & Waffles.
“I feel very good,” Mr. Williams said. “I don’t particularly say I know exactly what the breakdown is going to be, but based on what we’ve done, our own analysis, we feel good about where we are. We know where our voters are, we plan on getting them to the polls.”