NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, the face of Harlem politics for generations, held off a strong Democratic primary challenge and moved one step closer to what he says will be his 23rd and final term in the House.

Rangel, 84, defeated state Sen. Adriano Espaillat in a bruising fight that shed light on the changing face of a district that was once one of the nation's black political power bases.

With 100 percent of the vote counted in unofficial results, Rangel led Espaillat 47.4 percent to 43.6 percent, a difference of fewer than 2,000 votes. Nearly 47,800 votes had been counted. The Associated Press called Rangel the winner based on information Wednesday from the city Board of Elections on ballots cast that were not included in the election night tally.

The election pitted Rangel, the "Lion of Harlem" who has long personified the area's role in as a center of African-American political culture, against Espaillat, 59, a veteran state lawmaker seeking to become the first person born in the Dominican Republic to be elected to Congress.

Espaillat, who lost to Rangel in 2012 by about 1,000 votes in results that took two weeks to finalize, has not conceded, urging that every vote be counted.

Rangel was once arguably the nation's most influential black elected official, known for speaking out global issues — he strongly opposed apartheid and the Iraq War — but also for programs closer to home. He pushed to create a low-income tax credit that fueled the nation's largest affordable housing program, as well as a business empowerment zone that changed the economic face of Harlem.

___

Associated Press writers Deepti Hajela and Michael Sisak contributed to this report.