Charlie Rangel (D) New York, just finished the toughest fight of his 42-year career to win the Democratic Primary in his district. - Oops, the fight may not be over after all.
Ballots left uncounted, provisional ballots, and absentee ballots all combined to throw the primary election results up in the air again.
State Senator Adriano Espaillat had conceded the race to Rangel last Tuesday, however, the New York City Board of Elections results, as of Saturday evening, show that Rangel is ahead of his opponent by only 802 votes. With only a few more than 38,500 votes cast in the 13th Congressional District, the margin of victory is indeed a slim one.
Election officials have stated the rest of the 3,270 votes from absentee and paper ballots are yet to be verified and counted and, in effect, the contest is not yet over.
Espaillat, if he were to win the race, plus the general election race against a Republican opponent, would be the first American of Dominican descent to win a seat in the House of Representatives.
The Election Board spokesperson, Valerie Vazquez is quoted at CNN as stating: "Our policy and procedures require a manual hand count if the margin of victory is less than one half of a percentage point."
Rangel has, so far, survived the contentious issues of ethical lapses regarding tax evasion, and financial disclosure, which led to his being censured in the House of Representatives.
The Election Board has promised a full count will be completed by Thursday of this week, and Rangel will know whether or not he will continue to have a job or must retire.
Retirement may not be all that bad though; members of Congress maintain a comfortable pension.
From the Congressional Research Service (CRS), in 2006, there were 413 retired members of Congress with pensions averaging, $60,972. In a cost-cutting measure to ensure that members of Congress don't unfairly benefit from being allowed to write their own pension plans into law, the maximum pensions at the time of retirement are capped at no more than 80% of their highest annual wage. Rather frugal of them, don't you agree? But that retirement is actually a steep cut, when the full salary of rank and file members of Congress is understood to be $174,000 per year.
Medical benefits are also included for members, as reported by FactCheck.org.
"Like other large employers, the government pays a large share of the cost of coverage. On average, the government pays 72 percent of the premiums for its workers, up to a maximum of 75 percent depending on the policy chosen. For example, the popular Blue Cross and Blue Shield standard fee-for-service family plan carries a total premium of $1,120.47 per month, of which the beneficiary pays $356.59. Washington, D.C.-based employees who prefer an HMO option might choose the Kaiser standard family plan. It carries a total premium of $629.46 per month, of which the employee pays only $157.36."
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