Charlie Rangel’s victory questioned with uncounted votes looming

On Tuesday night, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat conceded to Rep. Charlie Rangel in New York's 13th District with the longtime incumbent enjoying a wide lead. But Rangel's front-runner status doesn't look so convincing anymore. Not only has his lead narrowed, but many votes are still outstanding, offering Rangel's opponents a reason to question his Democratic primary victory.

When the Associated Press called the race for Rangel—and Espaillat conceded—the 82-year-old congressman was ahead by double-digits. With 70 percent of precincts reporting, Rangel had 50 percent of the vote to Espaillat's 33 percent in the Harlem-area district on Tuesday night.

But later this week, with 94 percent of precincts reporting, Rangel was ahead by only 44 percent to Espaillat's 41 percent—or 16,916 votes to 15,884, a margin of just 1,032 votes, according to the Associated Press. Those totals were the latest available as of Friday.

Espaillat's campaign confirmed to Yahoo News Friday morning that it has not yet publicly commented on the vote narrowing.* But Espaillat's backers have been vocal about their concern for the winnowing margin.

"I'm here because most of those votes are from my district, and they are Adriano Espaillat's votes," City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez told a crowd at a rally in front of Rangel's office Thursday afternoon, referring to affidavit votes remaining to be counted, according to the New York Daily News. "We respect the Board of Elections and we are not jumping to any conclusions. We are just here because we care about the democratic process. We have the best candidate in Adriano Espaillat, and he will be our candidate at the end of this process."

Still, Rangel's camp remains confident in their win. "We are going through the process like we do after every election in order to ensure each vote is counted," Rangel spokeswoman Ronnie Sykes said in a statement issued this week. "We are confident that at the conclusion of this process we will be victorious."

Officials will release complete totals including affidavits, absentees and military ballots July 5, according to the city Board of Elections. News reports suggest some 3,000 votes remain.

The board currently reminds visitors on its website that preliminary vote results are just that, and that no results are certified until a complete recanvass has occurred and the additional paper ballots are tallied.

*Update 4:55 p.m. ET: Espaillat's campaign expressed dissatisfaction with the vote count process in a release Friday afternoon and offered support for a new decision by the state Supreme Court to hold a hearing to examine the count.