Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Why Jamaal Bowman’s N.Y. primary race could have major ramifications for Democrats

By 37ci3 Jun25,2024


MOUNT VERNON, NY – Bernie Sanders is lined up on one side of the race, Hillary Clinton on the other. The Democratic House primary in New York is in many ways a recap of the 2016 presidential election — with much of the familiar vitriol.

On Tuesday, progressive Rep. Jamaal Bowman, DN.Y. and centrist challenger George Latimer — which attracted the most advertising spending of any House primary in history — re-exposed and highlighted the flaws of a bitterly contested race eight years ago. The divide in the Democratic Party over the Israel-Hamas war.

Bowman is one of the fiercest critics of Israel in Congress He is fighting for his political life he is trying to fend off an onslaught of attack ads and win a third term. The United Democracy Project, a super PAC affiliated with the staunchly pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), spent nearly $15 million on ads to unseat Bowman and elect Latimer, the Westchester County executive of more than three decades. in local politics.

The spending comes in a diverse region north of Manhattan that combines urban and suburban areas and is home to one of the most significant Jewish American populations in the country.

As they crossed New York’s 16th District in the final leg of the race, Bowman and Latimer acknowledged that the Gaza war and record spending had made it a national race.

Latimer was “hired by AIPAC to fight against me because I called for a permanent ceasefire too early. AIPAC and its affiliates are pouring in unprecedented amounts of money … and that makes it important,” Bowman told NBC News in an interview in Mount Vernon, a New York City suburb in southern Westchester County.

“You want to send back to Congress an educator who has spent her entire life serving children, families and babies in our community and uplifting the working class?” said Bowman, 48, a former high school principal in the Bronx. “Or do you want a career politician funded by right-wing Republican billionaires who are literally buying our democracy? The choice is clear.”

Latimer, 70, also sought to create a stark contrast in both substance and tone, describing himself as more “diplomatic” at a campaign stop on Monday.

Bucking Bowman’s potential success Tuesday was AIPAC alone, Latimer told reporters at an event with Black faith leaders: “We had some internal polling data before a dime was spent on this race, and the first pros and cons comparisons that I have and the incumbent .. . got ahead of me from the start. That is, if someone says, ‘Oh, you spent so much money, that’s why you won’, it’s not true. We were ahead from the very beginning.”

“He said, ‘I want to give you a choice, I want to give you something different,'” Latimer told NBC News on Monday, referring to Bowman’s 2020 challenge to longtime Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel. I don’t see why it’s any different now that I’m stepping forward.”

National figures followed suit

In the final days of the campaign, Bowman brought out some progressive heavy hitters to boost turnout during a typically sleepy summer primary.

At several campaign events on Friday and Saturday, Bowman appeared alongside Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont, a hero of the left who embraced Clinton and the Democratic establishment in 2016. appeared alongside Bowman and Sanders at Saturday’s event in the Bronx, a neighboring New York area.

“My opponent and AIPAC are the destroyers of democracy,” Bowman shouted at a rally Saturday, his words epitomizing the frustration and bitterness that has come to set the tone of this race. “We’re going to show AIPAC the power of a South Bronx mom.” (The South Bronx used to be part of this district, but was drawn during the last redistricting period.)

Calling the race “one of the most important in modern American history,” Sanders, who is Jewish, warned that if Bowman loses Tuesday, lawmakers will no longer stand up to big-money special interests in the future.

“What do you say? District 16, Bronx, New York, the most important in American history? Really? Yes indeed. Because this election is not about Jamaal and Mr. Latimer,” Sanders said in front of about 300 people. “This election is about whether the billionaire class and oligarchs control the US government. In our opinion, no, they will not.”

Ocasio-Cortez, who like Bowman is a member of a “caucus” of progressive lawmakers of color, told rally attendees that she believes Bowman was targeted because of his pro-Palestinian views and “racism.” Earlier this year, AIPAC tried and failed to remove another Black Caucus member in an area with a significant Jewish population. Rep. Summer Lee, D-Pa.

“We don’t forget that one of the 435 representatives chosen by these big-money interests is black, the son of a single mother who grew up in public housing and later founded a single mother. One of the most recognized public schools in all of New York in the South Bronx,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It’s not lost on us — we see racism at play.”

George Latimer.
George Latimer, in Pelham, NY, March 19.Yuki Iwamura / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Asked about these accusations in the waning days of the race, Latimer tried to clarify his controversial comments, concluding: “They’re trying to get away with any pretense they can that they’re trying to make me like me. no.”

What did Bowman mean when he said there was an “ethnic benefit” in various regions? “It connects to the Bronx because it shares demographics with most of the people in the Bronx,” Latimer said. “All I did was answer the question with the same kind of practical understanding for politics.”

As for a recent report that Bowman’s “constituency is in Dearborn, Michigan” — an area with a large Muslim population — Latimer dismissed Bowman’s accusation that the comment amounted to a racial dog whistle.

“He has a joint fundraising effort with Rep. [Rashida] Tlaib. He’s based in Dearborn,” Latimer said, referring to the Michigan congressman who is also a member of the Staff.

Latimer also has star power in his corner. When announcing it Confirmation for Latimer Clinton, her constituent in Westchester County this month, did not mention Israel, but Latimer said she would “protect abortion rights, oppose the NRA and fight for President Biden’s agenda — as she always has.”

Former Rep. Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y., a onetime Bowman ally seeking a comeback in a neighboring district, supports Latimer over Bowman’s statements on Israel. And continue On Monday, another key moderate Democrat, Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, co-chairman of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, endorsed Latimer over his House counterpart.

“We need more common sense leaders and problem solvers in Congress,” said Gottheimer, who is Jewish. X said. “I know George will fight hate in all its forms and stand up for the values ​​we all believe in.”

Asked about the heavy hitting behind Latimer, Bowman took a not-so-subtle shot at Clinton.

“Honestly, I don’t know how much of a heavy hitter Hillary Clinton is. The people are more interested in Hakeem Jeffries, me and the future of the Democratic Party,” said Bowman, referring to the House Minority Leader and fellow New York Democrat who supported Bowman along with his top lieutenants but did not campaign with him.

Bowman retreats

Bowman is known for his frequent use of profanity and confrontational approach On Capitol Hill, he’s not usually one to apologize. But a vocal Israeli critic has pushed back in recent days, saying reports of sexual assault during the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack in Israel were “propaganda” and “lies.”

“The UN confirmed cases of sexual harassment. After the UN approved it, we immediately condemned it,” Bowman told NBC News. “We cannot trust Benjamin Netanyahu. Benjamin Netanyahu lied to the president. And the president in the White House had to back down from what Benjamin Netanyahu told them. So we cannot trust Benjamin Netanyahu. Therefore, I will not go beyond his word that something happened.”

The attack ads also accused Bowman of opposing parts of Biden’s agenda and out of touch with the president on certain votes. Bowman pushed back on that story last year, indicating that he supported Biden.

“I have already endorsed President Biden and I have endorsed President Biden. Again, this is propaganda from commercials. I voted 94% with the president. I wrote many amendments for CHIPS and the Science Act. … I’ve shared the stage with him a few times,” Bowman said. “To say I’m not with President Biden is a joke and a lie. … This is brainwashing in $30 million in advertising and mailings.”



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