Congressman Charlie Rangel moved a big step closer to securing his 22nd term representing New York in the House when his latest challenger, State Sen. Adriano Espaillat dropped his lawsuit contesting the results of the Democratic primary two weeks ago.

Espaillat’s odyssey began when he initially conceded to Rangel on election night, believing that Rangel had beaten him convincingly in the district that now included the Bronx along with Harlem and Upper Manhattan. But after announcing his concession, Espaillat changed his mind when his campaign got reports that voters had been turned away at the polls. A Dominican-American with strong Hispanic support, Espaillat considered the Bronx his advantage in the contest. He filed a lawsuit contesting the election results.

But at a news conference today, Espaillat acknowledged that the game was over and said he would drop the lawsuit.

“I am here to acknowledge that we came short – 2 percent,” Espaillat told a news conference broadcast by the NY1 cable station.

Though many in the city and Congress had urged Rangel to step aside for a younger, more energetic candidate, the 82-year-old elder statesman of New York politics refused, saying he still had many years of service left in him. In addition to questions about his age, Rangel has also had his ethics questioned in recent years with investigations into his finances. The House of Representatives voted in 2010 to censure Rangel for ethics violations, including failing to pay some income taxes for properties he owns. The censure was an embarrassment for the proud Rangel, who stepped down as chairman of the powerful tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.

Back in New York, redistricting had transformed his once solidly black district into one that is heavily Hispanic—encouraging a challenger like Espaillat to think he could take Rangel on.

Now Rangel must win the general election in November—a virtual guarantee in the overwhelmingly Democratic district.


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