It's Official: Progressive Ousts Longtime NYC Congressman

AP calls the race for Jamaal Bowman, leaving Democrat Eliot Engel out after 16 terms
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2020 1:15 PM CDT
It's Official: Progressive Ousts Longtime NYC Congressman
This June 23, 2020, file photo shows Jamaal Bowman speaking to attendees during his primary night party.   (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, FIle)

Former middle-school teacher Jamaal Bowman declared victory shortly after the June 23 New York primary in his race against longtime New York City Congressman Eliot Engel. But with a large haul of mail-in ballots to be counted due to the pandemic, Bowman wasn't able to officially be deemed the winner—until now. The AP called the race Friday for the progressive candidate after receiving the absentee ballot vote from Westchester County. Mail-in ballots from the Bronx still hadn't been counted, but Bowman's in-person lead was enough that the AP was able to wrap things up. "The world has changed," Bowman said in a statement after finding out he'd officially been named the winner, per Politico. "Congress needs to change, too."

The AP notes this race was the "latest proxy battle between the party's progressive and pragmatic wings," with Bowman receiving support from the likes of Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose own upset victory in 2018 over powerful New York City Dem Joe Crowley has been compared to Bowman's. Engel, meanwhile, had the support of establishment Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said of his push for Engel that "seniority matters," per the New York Times. Engel has served as chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee since the Democrats gained control of the House in 2018. "If we can take on entrenched power and wealthy interests here in Westchester and the Bronx, then we can do it all across this country," Bowman said in his statement. (More Eliot Engel stories.)

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