Adriano Espaillat isn’t going away.
The Washington Heights state senator who last week conceded a narrow loss to Rep. Charles Rangel in a Democratic primary said Monday that the result is now unclear. His lawyers said the campaign plans to ask a judge to order a recount of the votes and left open the possibility that they would ask for a new election
“We cannot have a Florida-type situation in New York state,” Mr. Espaillat said at a news conference in northern Manhattan, referring to the disputed 2000 presidential election. “We may not be looking at people looking at the pregnant dimples, but certainly the Board of Elections has not conclusively given us a result for this election. In fact, they have engaged in a murky process with a lack of transparency.”
The Board of Elections defended its procedures.Mr. Rangel’s lead now stands at 802 votes-about 2% of the total votes cast. On election night, his lead was about 6 percentage points, according to unofficial tallies. The next day, it shrunk to 2.6 points as the Associated Press rechecked those tallies, which are reported by the police and poll workers. About 1,000 absentee ballots and 1,200 cast on a provisional basis by voters whose eligibility was unclear on election night have yet to be counted.
“They have been given complete access to the entire process,” a spokeswoman said. “The entire re-canvass proceedings have been transparent.”
As Mr. Espaillat marshaled his legal forces, hiring a new lawyer and changing his strategy, Mr. Rangel used the dispute to raise money.
The 21-term incumbent sent an email to supporters asking for contributions to help fund his legal effort. In it, he said he was “completely baffled” by the situation and Mr. Espaillat’s reaction.
“I don’t know what will transpire in the coming days, but one thing is clear: I need your help to prepare myself for another battle-whether it’s a legal battle with the Board of Elections or with my opponent,” the email said.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Rangel didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Espaillat’s lawyers appear to be going down two paths.
First, they are asking a state Supreme Court judge to order a re-canvassing of the votes already cast.
Second, they are making sure they retain the option to invoke a provision in state law that allows a judge to order a revote in primary elections where the result is unclear.
Mr. Espaillat’s attorney, Martin Connor, said he would ask for a new election Tuesday but only as a legal maneuver. The request would prevent the statute of limitations from expiring before the campaign has time to investigate whether it can make a case that the result is in doubt.
A hand recount would be required if less than 0.5% of the votes cast separate the two candidates. But it was unclear Monday whether Mr. Espaillat could make up that much ground in the 2,200 ballots left to be counted.
The campaign needs time to review election records and issues such as whether the number of ballots cast at polling places was greater than the number of registered Democrats who signed in to vote there.
The Espaillat campaign had filed a different request in court Friday. It withdrew those papers Monday and plans to file new ones on Tuesday.