New York's 13th Congressional District elections, 2012

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New York's 13th Congressional District

General Election Date
November 6, 2012

Primary Date
June 26, 2012

November 6 Election Winner:
Charles Rangel Democratic Party
Incumbent prior to election:
Michael Grimm Republican Party
Michael Grimm.jpg

New York U.S. House Elections
District 1District 2District 3District 4District 5District 6District 7District 8District 9District 10District 11District 12District 13District 14District 15District 16District 17District 18District 19District 20District 21District 22District 23District 24District 25District 26District 27

2012 U.S. Senate Elections

Flag of New York.png
The 13th congressional district of New York will hold an election for the U.S. House of Representatives on November 6, 2012.
Candidate Filing Deadline Primary Election General Election
April 16, 2012
June 26, 2012
November 6, 2012

Primary: New York has a closed primary system, meaning only registered members of a particular party may vote in that party's primary.

Voter registration: Voters had to register to vote in the primary by June 1. For the general election, the voter registration deadline is October 12, or October 26 in person.[1]

See also: New York elections, 2012

Incumbent: Heading into the election the incumbent is Michael Grimm (R), who was first elected to the House in 2010. Due to redistricting, Grimm is running in the new 11th district, and 15th district incumbent Charlie Rangel is running in the new 13th.

On the night of the Democratic primary, Rangel declared victory with a 2,000-vote lead over challenger Adriano Espaillat. Over the next 12 days, that lead shrunk to 990 as the city elections board finished counting all of the votes, which they completed on July 7.[2] Espaillat had filed court documents, and a judge granted his request to hold certification of the vote tallies until Espaillat had a chance to make his case that some voters had been improperly disqualified.[2][3] On July 9, however, Espaillat conceded the election and opted not to pursue further legal action.[4]

Some say discrepancies at the polls and in the vote counting raise questions about the Board of Elections' credibility.[5][6] Several Hispanic advocacy groups will investigate whether some voters were unfairly disenfranchised in the election.[4]

Fusion voting

New York is one of eight states that have "electoral fusion" -- which allows more than one political party to support a common candidate. This creates a situation where one candidate will appear multiple times on the same ballot, for the same position. Electoral fusion was once widespread across the United States, but is now commonly practiced only in New York.

Opponents of fusion voting argue that the process results in dealmarking to ensure that patronage is rampant.[7] Proponents maintain that fusion voting allows for minor parties to actually make a difference during the election, allowing voters the opportunity to vote for a minority party platform but still affect the general election result.[8]

Candidates appearing in the general election will be listed below with colored dots corresponding to any party they will represent on the ballot.


General election candidates

Democratic PartyWorking Families Party Charles Rangel Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Craig Schley
Independent Deborah Liatos

June 26, 2012 primary results

Democratic Party Democratic Primary

Republican Party Republican Primary

Working Families Party Working Families candidate

Independent Socialist Workers candidate

Map of the 13th congressional district of New York before and after the 2010 redistricting. Click on the link for an interactive map of the congressional districts in New York. For an interactive map of the districts prior to the 2010 Census, click here.

Primary ballot contest

While Charlie Rangel declared victory on election night with a 6.6 percentage-point lead, his lead shrunk over the next few days as results continued to trickle in. Adriano Espaillat took back his concession and prepared to challenge the final count in court. After that final count was completed on July 7, Espaillat conceded the election for good on July 9, although he and others continue to question the Board of Elections' actions.[4][14]

As of Thursday, June 28, 2012, 94% of precincts had reported, and Charlie Rangel's lead in the Democratic primary had shrunk from 6.6 percentage points on election night to 3 percentage points. Challenger Adriano Espaillat was just over 1,000 votes behind Rangel.[15]

As of July 2, Rangel's lead had shrunk to 802 votes.[16] By July 3, Espaillat had filed court documents calling for a recount and possibly a new election.[17] The city Board of Elections had yet to finish counting all of the paper votes.[18]

On Friday, July 6, ballot counts showed Rangel with about a 1,000-vote lead.[19] Espaillat was scheduled to make a case in court on July 11,[20] saying that some ballots for him were incorrectly thrown out, or request a new election altogether.[19] Espaillat also faced pressure to choose between pursuing the 13th district race or filing for re-election to his New York State Senate seat on July 12, since New York state law forbids politicians from running for two offices simultaneously.[19]

On Saturday, July 7, the city Board of Elections finished counting all of the ballots, and Rangel beat Espaillat by 990 votes.[2] The results were not yet official, as a judge delayed certification until Espaillat could make his legal case on July 11. Espaillat planned to argue that some voters were unfairly disenfranchised.[2][20] In a press statement, Espaillat said: "A ballooned number of affidavit ballots and hundreds of calls of people that said they were turned away because they said they couldn’t find them in the books? ... No notification for a voter that there was an election. All these things amounted to a big red flag."[14]

On July 9, Espaillat conceded the race.[4] He opted not to make his case in court, saying "[W]e came up short — 2 percent... It’s virtually impossible for the results to be different."[4] He and other still had doubts about the Board of Elections' handling of the primary,[14] but he is leaving further presses to advocacy groups.[4]

Race background

Democratic primary

Charlie Rangel has represented New York's 15th district since he was first elected in 1970. Due to redistricting, his territory was redrawn into the new 13th district. The 2012 Democratic primary election presented Rangel's toughest challenge since he defeated the previous incumbent 42 years ago.[21]

State Senator Adriano Espaillat, former Bill Clinton staffer Clyde Williams, former executive Joyce Johnson, and former Rangel intern Craig Schley all challenged Rangel in the June 26 Democratic primary.[22][23]

Analysts expected race to come into play, as demographic changes and redistricting meant that the traditionally black district is now majority Hispanic.[24] Rangel's foremost challenge came from Espaillat, who was born in the Dominican Republic.[24] While considered a "black politician," Rangel also has Puerto Rican heritage.[21][24]

Two other main issues were Rangel's recent ethics violations and his extensive term in office. Rangel received censure from the U.S. House in 2010 for failing to report some income.[24] And Rangel's challengers pointed out that the 82-year-old congressman has been in office for over half his life.[23][24] The incumbent also suffered health problems this past year that kept him out of Washington for significant chunks of time, raising questions about his ability to represent the district.[24] Rangel, however, dismissed these objections: "If I can support the initiatives that we started, how can I possibly sit on the sidelines?"[21]


June 14, 2012

On June 14, 2012, all five Democratic candidates met for a debate. Rangel and Espaillat traded some intense words, with Rangel questioning a petition drive for Espaillat that the state senator says he's not involved with. Espaillat parried by bringing up Rangel's own ethics issues. Williams urged the candidates to avoid personal attacks and focus on the issues. Schley commented that Rangel was "antiquated" and was past his political prime.[23]

Super PAC involvement

The Super PAC Campaign for Primary Accountability targeted Rangel for defeat in the primary.[21]


Impact of redistricting

See also: Redistricting in New York

Following the results of the 2010 Census, New York lost two congressional seats, bringing its total number of representatives down from 29 to 27. In the redrawn map, the 13th district now includes much of the territory of Charlie Rangel, who represents the pre-redistricting 15th district, along with parts of the Bronx.[21]

According to a report in the Washington Post political blog "The Fix," New York was one of the top 10 redistricting battles in the nation.[25]

The 13th district was re-drawn after the 2010 Census. The new district is composed of the following percentages of voters of the old congressional districts.[26][27]

District history


This is the 13th congressional district prior to the 2011 redistricting.

On November 2, 2010, Michael Grimm was elected to the United States House. He also ran on the Conservative Party candidate. He defeated Michael E. McMahon (D), and Tom Vendittelli (Libertarian).[28]

U.S. House, New York Congressional District 13 General Election, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngMichael Grimm 49.5% 65,024
     Democratic Michael E. McMahon 46.2% 60,773
     Blank/Scattering 3.6% 4,700
     Libertarian Tom Vendittelli 0.7% 929
Total Votes 131,426

See also


  1. New York State Board of Elections "Voting Deadline Page," Accessed June 30, 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Wall Street Journal "Board of Elections: Rangel wins by 990 votes," July 7, 2012
  3. Washington Post blog "Rangel opponent files for re-vote in increasingly tight primary," July 5, 2012
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 New York Times "Rangel’s Opponent Gives Up And Will Halt Court Challenge," July 9, 2012
  5. Newsday "Rangel-Espaillat race highlights need for statewide election standards in NY," July 5, 2012
  6. New York Daily News "Troubling actions by Board of Elex members," July 6, 2012
  7. Electoral fusion ruins elections
  8. Working Family Party: Fusion voting
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 New York Board of Elections "List of Filings for June 26, 2012 Federal Primary," accessed May 30, 2012
  10. Columbia Spectator 'Harlem activist Craig Schley formally announced his candidacy against longtime Representative Charles Rangel" accessed February 17, 2012
  11. NY Daily News "Clyde Williams adds big-money names to list," April 13, 2012
  12. Capital Tonight "Joyce Johnson Makes 2nd Attempt Against Rangel," March 28, 2012
  13. New York Elections "2012 Candidate List"
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Politicker "Adriano Espaillat Won’t Be Giving That Apology to The Board of Elections," July 10, 2012
  15. Politico "Rangel results still unsettled," June 28, 2012
  16. Chicago Tribune "Rangel rival challenges primary results," July 2, 2012
  17. Wall Street Journal "Espaillat seeks recount or new NY primary election," July 3, 2012
  18. New York Daily News "Adriano Espaillat vs. Charlie Rangel showdown: Espaillat's lawyer accuses Board of Elections of stonewalling in ballot challenge," July 3, 2012
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Wall Street Journal "Rangel Adds To Vote Edge in New Count," July 6, 2012
  20. 20.0 20.1 New York Times "Rangel’s Slim Lead Widens as Ballot Count Continues," July 5, 2012
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 Roll Call "Charlie Rangel at Risk in Rough Race," June 13, 2012
  22. New York Daily News "4 candidates for 13th C.D. make hay at Lehman TV debate - but Rangel skips it," June 13, 2012
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 NY1 "Sparks Fly Between Rangel, Espillat At ICH Congressional Debate," June 14, 2012
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 24.4 24.5 NPR "Harlem Icon Faces 'Perfect Storm' In Re-Election Bid," June 13, 2012
  25. Washington Post, "The Fix," "Redistricting battles hit a fever pitch," June 3, 2011
  26. Moonshadow Mobile's CensusViewer "New York's congressional districts 2001-2011 comparison"
  27. Labels & Lists "VoterMapping software voter counts"
  28. U.S. Congress House Clerk "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010"