WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Incumbent state Sen. Adriano Espaillat defeated Robert Jackson in a close primary race on Tuesday.
Espaillat took 50.3 percent of the vote, while Jackson had 42.7 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting. Luis Tejada, a third candidate, pulled in 7 percent of the vote.
Espaillat entered the race in June after narrowly losing to Rep. Charles Rangel for the second time in a bid to take over the long-time congressman’s seat and become the first Dominican-American elected to national office.
He faced an energetic challenge from Jackson, who represented large areas of the district as a three-term city councilman. Jackson was term limited and left office in 2013.
Jackson’s campaign emphasized Espaillat’s spotty attendance record as a state senator. Jackson pointed to an analysis by the New York Public Interest Research Group that showed Espaillat missed 891 — or 60 percent — of votes in the 2013-14 legislative session, giving him the worst attendance record of any senator.
Jackson’s campaign released an ad that featured Espaillat’s image on a milk carton with the question “Have You Seen Our State Senator?.”
During a televised debate on NY1, Espaillat defended his record, saying that many of his absences coincided with the week immediately leading up to voting day in his campaign against Rangel.
When asked about his top priorities if elected, Espaillat said he would work to improve housing, including reforming the rules by which landlords can increase rent after making capital improvements. He also said he would work toward raising the minimum wage, citing $15 per hour as a reasonable goal.
Espaillat is currently unchallenged in the general election, which will take place Nov. 4.