9-way Dem Primary For Rangel’s Seat Too Close to Call

ALBANY (AP) -

A nine-way Democratic primary race Tuesday in retiring Rep. Charles Rangel’s New York City district remains too close to call.

State Sen. Adriano Espaillat held a lead over Assemblyman Keith Wright with 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Espaillat, who had twice previously failed to knock off Rangel in primaries, led by more than 1,200 votes.

Wright had the backing of Rangel in a district that has remained a stronghold for black politicians for generations even as the number of Latinos grew.

Rangel won his congressional seat in 1970 by defeating Adam Clayton Powell Jr. in a Democratic primary.

“This campaign ain’t over. Every vote is going to be counted,” Keith Wright told his supporters Tuesday night. “We worked too long and too hard.”

Espaillat sounded a similar theme: “We will count every single vote, and we are confident that by the end of the fight we will be up by over 1,000 votes.”

New York City Democrats Gregory Meeks, Nydia Velazquez, Carolyn Maloney and Jose Serrano also fended off primary challenges.

Rangel and Rep. Steve Israel of Long Island are among the four New York congressmen retiring at the end of the year, guaranteeing new faces in the 27-member delegation. Primary contests also were being held in the districts of the two outgoing upstate Republicans: Hudson Valley Rep. Chris Gibson and central New York Rep. Richard Hanna.

Democrat Zephyr Teachout and Republican John Faso will battle for Gibson’s Hudson Valley seat this fall after winning their primary races. The district is closely split between Democrats and Republicans. Gibson is retiring after three terms.

On Long Island, former Nassau County executive Thomas Suozzi won a five-way Democratic primary race in Israel’s district. Suozzi will face Republican Jack Martins in what could be a competitive general election campaign.

Conservative Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney won a three-way Republican primary to replace Hanna. She will face Democrat Kim Myers, a Broome County legislator.

In the lower Hudson Valley, Phil Oliva won in a Republican primary and will take on Democratic incumbent Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.