Espaillat will concede to Rangel, and now has Linares to worry about

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Espaillat. (AdrianoEspaillat via flickr)
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State Senator Adriano Espaillat will concede the race to Rep. Charlie Rangel today, following a vote-count by the New York City Board of Elections that has the 21-term congressman winning by 990 votes.

Espaillat, whose campaign claimed to have been victimized by "voter suppression," is expected to make the formal concession in a statement later today.

According to a knowledgeable source, Espaillat is not dropping his overall complaint that board of elections officials worked to ensure Rangel's re-election by deterring Spanish-speaking voters from casting ballots.

The campaign said "hundreds" of voters were discouraged from voting, and was facing a July 11 deadline to substantiate those claims to a State Supreme Court judge in the Bronx. None of that will be necessary now.

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Espaillat came closest of any of Rangel's opponents to toppling him, and for the first time, a majority of people in Rangel's district (which was altered in the most recent round of redistricting and became more Latino) voted for someone other than him. In theory, this establishes Espaillat as a leading contender to replace Rangel in the future.

More immediately, though, Espaillat will have to concern himself with retaining his State Senate seat.

When he was running for Congress, he said he was focused solely on that race. Presumably, he'll now say that his strong finish in the congressional contest demonstrates that there is a strong desire in Upper Manhattan to have him continue his public service career.

Two candidates have already declared their intent to run for the seat. One is Mark Levine, a onetime opponent of Espaillat who endorsed his run for Congress (and whose Committee to Fill Vacancies includes Espaillat's mother). The other is Assemblyman Guillermo Linares, a Rangel supporter and, like Espaillat, a pioneer in Dominican-American politics here.

Linares and Espaillat have jockeyed for position with each other  for years. (Linares was the first Dominican-American elected to office in New York; Espaillat was the fist Dominican elected to the state legislature and was campaigning to become the first in the United States congress.)

Linares has said he'll run for Espaillat's seat even if Espaillat runs for re-election, but he'd have to give up his Assembly seat to do so.

Levine has not made the same commitment to run against Espaillat.