Rep. Charles Rangel was declared the winner Wednesday in his Democratic primary battle for a 23rd term by The Associated Press, which called his unofficial 1,828-vote lead insurmountable, and by other party players who supported him or stayed neutral in the race.
State Sen. Adriano Espaillat has not yet conceded. On Tuesday night, he described the race as too close to call and his representative said they would await a count of paper ballots, which would likely take about a week.
Unofficial results showed that Rangel, 84, of Harlem, led Espaillat, 59, of Washington Heights, 47.4 percent to 43.6 percent, with 100 percent of precincts reporting. The raw vote tally was Rangel 22,674, Espaillat 20,846.
The AP said it made its call Wednesday afternoon winner based on fresh information from the city Board of Elections on the numbers of absentee and provisional ballots cast that were not included in the election night tally. The number of absentee and provisional ballots were not sufficient for Espaillat to catch Rangel, according to the news service.
Rangel's campaign said he would attend a "unity rally" at the Rev. Al Sharpton's House of Justice on Saturday, intended to bring together all communities of the upper Manhattan and Bronx district. Espaillat's campaign did not immediately respond to an inquiry on whether he would attend.
"The voters have spoken. Congressman Rangel appears to have certainly been the victor," Sharpton said earlier Wednesday on MSNBC. "And I think that people have the right to examine every vote, but I think that we've got to move on now."
Sharpton had declined to endorse in the race, even chastising the candidates for introducing race and nationality into the campaign after Rangel in a debate earlier this month accused Espaillat of having done nothing aside from "saying he's a Dominican."
Earlier, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who offered Rangel a last-minute endorsement, tweeted, "I never doubted @CBRangel and clearly neither did the people of the 13th Congressional District. #NY13"
The Board of Elections said it had so far received and certified 747 absentee ballots from 13th district voters in Manhattan and 242 in the Bronx. It can continue receiving absentee, military and affidavit ballots until next Tuesday, and the ballots will be counted the following day in the presence of officials from both campaigns.
Christina Greer, assistant professor of political science at Fordham University, said Rangel had grown more as a candidate than Espaillat did between their 2012 faceoff -- which Rangel won by less than 1,110 votes -- and this year's.
"I think Rangel understands how to win . . . I think he understands that each race is a different race," she said. "He did not take Espaillat for granted this time at all. He approached it as if he was the challenger."
Espaillat, meanwhile, did not make a case against Rangel "beyond this guy's been here too long," Greer said.
Rangel in an interview on Geraldo Rivera's radio show Wednesday morning said no one in the campaign, including former allies who backed Espaillat, had ever made the argument that he wasn't "the best-qualified."
"None of them said I couldn't do the best job for the community," he said.