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Newcomer Declares Victory in AOC-Like Stunner

Jamaal Bowman says he has ousted longtime Congressman Eliot Engel in New York City
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2020 11:20 AM CDT

(Newser) – The race hasn't been officially called, but it appears that longtime New York City Congressman Eliot Engel is being ousted by a political novice in the mold of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The newcomer is Jamaal Bowman, a 44-year-old middle school principal and progressive, who declared victory in the Democratic primary Wednesday night. The primary winner is seen as a slam-dunk winner in November. Coverage:

  • The race: A primary winner hasn't been officially declared because of the volume of mail-in ballots still being processed. Bowman, though, has a big lead, and sites such as Decision Desk HQ have called the race. "I'm a Black man who was raised by a single mother in a housing project," Bowman said in a victory statement Wednesday, per the New York Daily News. "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. I cannot wait to get to Washington and cause problems for the people maintaining the status quo."

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  • The choice: establishment vs. change. Engel, 73, has been in Congress since 1989, is New York's longest-serving member of Congress, and chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, per Vox. Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton backed him, while AOC, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren endorsed Bowman.
  • Engel's trouble: This is a "galvanizing moment for national progressives," observes BuzzFeed, which notes that, like AOC before him, Bowman cast his incumbent rival as out of touch. Engel's district includes the town of New Rochelle, which was especially hard-hit by COVID-19. In May, the Atlantic found that Engel was quarantining in Maryland instead of his district.
  • Hot mic: This also didn't help Engel's cause: In early June, he was heard on a hot mic asking Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. for a speaking slot at a news conference on police brutality. "If I didn't have a primary, I wouldn't care," Engel told him. Watch a clip via NY1.
  • Bowman: His platform is similar to AOC's. He wants bigger US investments in green energy, education, and health care, reports Business Insider.
  • A trend: The AP notes that Bowman is one of several black Democrats whose political fortunes have risen amid the George Floyd protests. The group includes Cameron Webb, a physician who defeated three white rivals in a central Virginia district on Tuesday.
(Read more Eliot Engel stories.)

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