(CNN) – After 13 days of vote counting and election wrangling, the New York state senator who challenged longtime New York Rep. Charles Rangel for his U.S. House seat conceded the race at a Monday press conference.
State senator Adriano Espaillat announced he would drop his challenge and lawsuit, which had election workers in the 13th Congressional District continuing to count ballots from the June 26 Democratic primary.
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"I congratulate Congressman Rangel for having won this victory and I look forward to working with him," Espaillat said Monday. He declined to answer a question about his own political future, including a run for the seat in the future, saying, "I think two years down the line is a long time. I will not make a decision right here. But I feel very strongly that I have come out strengthened from this process."
Unofficial results from Sunday evening showed 21-term incumbent Rangel ahead of Espaillat by 1,069 votes out of over 43,000 cast.
Espaillat went to court early last week to ensure counting continued as results showed him as close as 802 votes behind Rangel, with thousands of absentee and provisional (cast by voters whose registration status needed further review) ballots not yet uncounted.
The challenger suggested that some voters may have been confused by redistricting, which may have put them into new electoral districts or precincts. At the press conference, Espaillat argued the election process overall needed reform.
"This has been going on for some time now, two weeks," he said. "I think that this election should be an example of why there should be vigorous debate about reforming the electoral process in New York state and primary the Board Of Elections."
Espaillat initially conceded on election night after he appeared to be 2,300 votes behind Rangel, but within days, announced his intention to file suit so counting would continue.
Espaillat is Dominican-American in a district where 55% of eligible voters are Hispanic and, if elected, would be the first Dominican-American elected to Congress.
The winner of the Democratic primary is expected to win reelection easily. Rangel won reelection under different district lines by with 80% of the vote in 2010.
- CNN's Julie Cannold, Jason Kessler, Kristina Sgueglia, Ashley Killough, and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report