Rep. Rangel holds 990-vote lead as count ends in contested NY Democratic primary

Rep. Charles Rangel leads by 990 votes in his Democratic primary, after election officials completed a contentious, extended count lasting nearly two weeks.

But for the result to become official, it must first be certified by board commissioners, which can happen as soon as Tuesday.

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New York City Board of Elections spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez said that with a hand count of absentee ballots completed, Rangel had received 18,940 votes, topping his challenger state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who tallied 17,950 votes, according to a report in the New York Post.

Either candidate may also still challenge the board’s assessment in court.  The Dominican Republic-born Espaillat, has already filed suit, alleging possible voter suppression, claiming some Latino supporters were turned away from polls and that election officials improperly invalidated many ballots. 

Both parties are due in court on Wednesday to further litigate Espaillat’s suit.

Rangel appeared to have won his primary contest on June 26, when reports showed him with a 46 percent to 38 lead over his challenger with 82 percent of precincts reporting. Rangel declared victory and Espaillat conceded.

But since election night, Rangel’s lead shrunk as ballots continued to be counted. On Thursday, election officials began counting absentee and affidavit ballots, and Rangel’s lead in the vote count shrunk to 802 votes on Friday morning.

The primary fight has been the toughest of Rangel's 42-year career in Congress. The veteran lawmaker who once served as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee was hit by an ethics scandal that led to him being stripped of much of his power and culminated in a rare House censure in 2010.