THE BRONX — Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, who demanded that every vote be counted before accepting Diana Ayala as the winner of City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito's vacated seat, has conceded victory.
"I offer my congrats to Diana Ayala, and I hope she can fulfill the promises she made. We need strong leadership, and from the Assembly, I promise that I will continue to put our community first,” said Rodriguez in an email sent out shortly before 3:30 p.m.
“Unfortunately, this campaign was up against incumbency and negative rhetoric that did not communicate the truth about what I have accomplished in this community," he wrote.
In the four-way race for a district that includes East Harlem, Mott Haven, High Bridge, Concourse, Port Morris and Longwood, Ayala came in with 43.64 percent of the votes on election night. Assemblyman Rodriguez got to 42.20 percent, according to unofficial results from the Board of Elections, with 97.62 percent of election scanners reported.
"With all vote counting complete, I am proud to declare victory today," Ayala said, thanking her “mentor” Mark-Viverito for seeing in her “the passion for public service that needs a voice in the City Council."
Rodriguez, a favorite of the Bronx Democratic County Committee — though not of all the elected officials there — sent out a statement shortly after midnight calling the race "far too close to call," adding that "it is premature for anyone to declare a victory. There are still ballots left to be counted, and we want to make sure each voter has their voice heard."
The city's Board of Elections counts absentee and provisional ballots a week after the election, a spokeswoman previously said. It was unclear whether that process has been completed, but the election is not yet certified.
Rodriguez was elected to the Assembly in 2010 and will continue to serve Assembly District 68.
Ayala faces Republican Daby Carreras in the general election on November 7.