Wright concedes in primary to replace Rep. Charles Rangel

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HARLEM - A hotly contested primary is finally over.

State Senator Adriano Espaillat was declared the victor in the Democratic primary for longtime Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel's seat in the 13th District.

Espaillat's opponent, State Assemblyman Keith Wright, finally conceded defeat late Thursday afternoon.

It's a history making win for Espaillat. He takes a big step towards becoming the first Dominican-American elected to Congress.

But Thursday was about unity and paying respect to his longtime rival and Harlem mainstay Rangel.

Rangel, Espaillat and Wright held a news conference outside Sylvia's, the famed restaurant in Harlem.

"I want to thank all my supporters," Espaillat said.

It was a hard fought battle. Nine people in total were vying for Rangel's seat, but from the beginning, Espaillat and Wright were widely considered the frontrunners.

In the end, Espaillat won 37 percent of the votes to Wright's 34 percent.

Wright, who was Rangel's handpicked choice to succeed him, refused to concede Tuesday night, demanding a count of absentee and affidavit ballots. On Thursday, he took a conciliatory tone.

"We left it all on the battlefield and now it's time to come together," Wright said.

Espaillat and Rangel have had a bitter rivalry. Espaillat unsuccessfully ran against him in the 2012 and 2014 primaries. The 86-year-old Rangel is retiring after 23 terms and nearly half a century in office.

"We have enough room for everyone to work together and the only way to achieve it is working together in unity," Rangel said.

The win by Espaillat is also of significance because it shows a shift in the historically black district and the rise of the Hispanic electorate.

Years of a democratic shift has led to a power shift in the 13th District, from Harlem to Washington Heights.

"I think this district drives the nation, it drives the soul of the nation," Espaillat said.

The winner of the primary is widely expected to win in November in this overwhelmingly Democratic district.

Rangel has said although he is leaving Congress, he won't be leaving politics.