Former Bronx Principal Jamaal Bowman Beats 16-Term Incumbent In New York Democratic Primary
This was Bowman's first-ever political campaign.
July 17, 2020 at 9:50 pm
Former Bronx middle school principal Jamaal Bowman has beat 16-term incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel in the New York Democratic primary.
The primary, which occurred on June 23 and had been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic, hadn’t been called until Friday because of the substantial amount of mail-in ballots that had yet to be counted, reports NBC News. New York state law requires absentee ballots to be counted only as early as one week after the primary. New York expanded its mail-in voting option amid the pandemic.
Bowman had been leading since the night of the election.
I’m a Black man who was raised by a single mother in a housing project.
That story doesn’t usually end in Congress.
But today, that 11-year old boy who was beaten by police is about to be your next Representative. pic.twitter.com/YIkfSecbXD
— Jamaal Bowman (@JamaalBowmanNY) July 17, 2020
Bowman, who will represent the 16th Congressional District if he wins in November, ran on a campaign focused on racial injustices and human rights.
“Coming into the campaign, we felt that structural racism, institutional racism, institutional classism, institutional sexism and militarism are the evils that continue to plague American society generally," he told NBC.
Bowman said he wanted to focus on speaking to constituents who felt ignored by Engel during his term, rather than taking voters from him.
"Initially, we weren't trying to take his base of votes from him. It was about engaging with the people who, quite frankly, felt ignored by him for 31 years. And guess what? That was a lot of people," Bowman said according to CNN. "Our canvassing operations and our focus was to knock on doors in Co-op City, Baychester, Yonkers, Mount Vernon and parts of New Rochelle, but also canvass Riverdale and Scarsdale and places that, quote-unquote, stereotypically would be Engel's backyard."
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who beat Rep. Joe Crowley for a seat representing the 14th District in 2018, had endorsed Bowman.
The 44-year-old was also backed by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and The Justice Democrats, who had also supported Ocasio-Cortez.
Engel, who serves as the chairman for the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was favored by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton.
Following his first-ever political campaign, the father of three was shocked to see his lead after just the first group of votes had been counted.
"When I looked at the bar graph, I was like, 'Wait a minute, can I see that again?' I asked him to see it like three or four times because I didn't believe what I was seeing, I guess, the first two times," Bowman said. "But I still couldn't get too excited because that was only the Bronx reporting at that moment."
Engel had a few blunders over the past few months, which some believe did not help his case. He spent much of the early days of the coronavirus lockdown at his home in Maryland instead of New York. He told CNN that he and his wife left the state because their home in Maryland was more suited to accommodate quarantine, as opposed to his apartment in New York.
A microphone also caught Engel saying he “wouldn’t care” if he didn’t have a primary after he was told there wouldn’t be time for him to speak at a news conference, reports CNN.
Despite the indiscretions, Engel believed voters would still come to his defense in the voting booth.
"The voters aren't stupid. They vote for me every two years because they know I care about them," Engel said. "I work hard for them, I produce for them, and I vote the way they would like for me to vote. And I've been very, very effective."
In November, Bowman will only face Conservative Party candidate Patrick McManus, as there is no Republican candidate.